By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
When selecting the marshals for the annual Fourth of July parade in a typical year, the Palisades Americanism Parade Association looks for people who have been active in the community, and often names the honorary mayors of the Palisades or other noteworthy community members, usually an individual or couple.
This year, for the first time, PAPA has named more than 50 members of Los Angeles Fire Department Stations 23 and 69 as honorary parade marshals.
“They have done so much for our Palisades community, between risking their lives every day to the fires that we experienced last year, and they are generally just heroes of the Pacific Palisades,” Matthew Rodman, president of PAPA, shared with the Palisadian-Post. “We want to honor the Palisades firefighters for their continuing heroism during the COVID-19 outbreak, the brush fires over the past year and their day-to-day service to our community.”
With social distancing orders in place during Fourth of July celebrations in Pacific Palisades, it took the ingenuity of PAPA and contributing efforts of the community to mark the occasion with new and amended events.
“We feel honored by the community every day and we are very community-oriented, so we felt privileged when we were selected to be the grand marshal,” Paul Egizi, captain of LAFD Station 69, shared with the Post.
LAFD Station 69 has three platoons, with Station Commanders Tom Kitahata, Jeff Brown and Egizi, and 36 sworn members.
“Every day we’ve run into different challenges,” Egizi continued.
Selecting the two stations as honorary parade marshals was a move that is particularly relevant in a year when LAFD was active in fighting nearby fires to keep the community safe.
Toward the end of 2019, LAFD battled the Palisades fire, which first broke out Monday, October 21, and burned through more than 40 acres of steep, cliff-like terrain, threatening several homes along Vista Grande Drive and Charmel Lane.
One week later, the Getty fire broke out, prompting evacuations in the Palisades and school closures that lasted several days. The fire, which was caused by a branch hitting a power line, burned 745 acres near Sepulveda Boulevard.
In more recent days, citywide protests following the death of George Floyd prompted more challenges for the firefighters.
“Engine 69 during the civil unrest spent the week going to the impacted areas outside of the Palisades,” Egizi shared.
Since this year is a little different with social distancing orders in place, being named honorary parade marshals lent a platform for the two fire stations to be recognized as part of the special occasions where they would typically be fixtures.
“We’re not letting people on the rig, we’re not going to any parties and we’re not going to any celebrations,” LAFD Station 23 Captain Kurt Vosberg shared ahead of the event.
LAFD Station 23 has 18 sworn members (three platoons) and three station commanders: Scott Gribbons, Robert Williams and Vosberg.
“It’s an honor and privilege to be selected as the honorary grand marshal,” Gribbons added. “Furthermore, I would like to stop and thank everyone in the Palisades community for being so supportive of not only Fire Station 23 and 69, but of the LAFD in general.”