Prescott makes plans for 1-year commemoration of Hotshots' deaths
PRESCOTT, Arizona - Nearly nine months since 19 of Prescott's Granite Mountain Hotshot crew died fighting a fire in Yarnell, the City of Prescott has finalized its plans for commemorating the one-year anniversary.
On Wednesday morning, Prescott Communications and Public Affairs Manager Pete Wertheim released the details of a somber memorial event that will take place on June 30, 2014 - one year after the Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy.
"The city, along with many other individuals and organizations, is planning activities that will appropriately honor these men and bring our community together in remembrance," the release states.
Central to the event will be a ceremony on the north side of the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza, featuring remarks by special guests and the reading of the names of the fallen Hotshots. The event will culminate with the ringing of the courthouse bell 19 times, starting at 4:42 p.m., the time of the Hotshot deaths.
"The city is asking all of the local area churches to ring their bells as well," the press release stated. "Following the ringing of the bells, a bagpipe will play remembrance songs including "Amazing Grace."
The commemoration also will include two guided hikes up Granite Mountain to pay homage to the Hotshots and the 14-foot-diameter alligator juniper tree that the crew saved just weeks earlier from the Doce Fire, which nearly consumed it.
Prescott Fire Department Engineer Darrin Osborne, who served as a department liaison with the volunteer effort to preserve the Hotshot memorial items, said the event is intended to focus on the lives and achievements of the Hotshots, rather than on the tragedy.
"It's important that we remember the guys - who they were, all the good they did, and all the homes they saved through the years," Osborne said.
He added that he believed the Hotshots would have appreciated aspects of the memorial, such as the hike up to the tree, and the related religious services that are being planned.
The hike will take about 30 minutes each way, according to the news release, and details on the times, parking, and transportation arrangements are still forthcoming.
The city also will close its offices at 3 p.m. that afternoon, and will issue a proclamation on the anniversary, along with a special announcement.
Plans also involve a rebroadcast throughout the day of the memorial service that took place at Tim's Toyota Center on July 9, 2013. The rebroadcast will take place on the Channel 13 and Channel 15 public access channels.
To help coordinate the city's event with other planned memorials, the city has created a webpage on its website at www.cityofprescott.net, under "Remembering Our Fallen, One-year Anniversary."
The city is encouraging other groups planning memorial events - including church services, memorial/art displays, fundraisers, concerts, and dedications - to submit information through the site for posting on the webpage.
One event that is already in the works is a display of Hotshot commemorative items in the ballroom at the Hotel St. Michael in downtown Prescott.
Katie Cornelius, the volunteer curator who helped with the Tribute Fence Preservation Project, said the display would be a "celebration of life," and would focus on each of the 19 Hotshots.
The display will take place from June 29 to July 6, and will feature nine three-sided kiosks that will display a selection of the commemorative items that were left on the fence in front of the Hotshots' Sixth Street fire station after the tragedy.
Acting Prescott Fire Chief Eric Kriwer noted that the department coordinated with city hall and other city departments to come up with the memorial plans.
"I think we coordinated well to come up with something that will be very appropriate to honor our fallen 19," Kriwer said Wednesday morning. "This will be a day of remembrance for those guys. Obviously, this is something that will be with our city forever, and we want to make sure it's appropriate."