by Mayor Laurene Weste
Nestled between the sports fields and hiking trails at Central Park is a grove of tree stumps. On each of the 106 stumps is the name of a local youth who died in a traffic collision and the “forever” age they were at the time of their death. This quiet space is the Youth Grove, and the stumps represent the young lives cut short. The Youth Grove was created through a grassroots effort, supported by the City of Santa Clarita and the Blue Ribbon Task Force.
Every September an Annual Evening of Remembrance is held at the Youth Grove to honor the young lives lost. This year’s event will take place on September 5, at 7 p.m., and will serve as a time to reflect, remember and honor Santa Clarita youth that have lost their lives in traffic-related incidents.
One of the most moving portions of the event is the Walk of Remembrance. The walk allows community members to come together to show support for families who have lost loved ones. The memorable walk around Central Park also serves as a mental and physical reminder of the dangers and fatalities that can occur from distracted driving. Following the walk is the Evening of Remembrance ceremony, a time to remember and honor lives lost.
The Evening of Remembrance is a powerful event that clearly shows how many lives have been lost to distracted driving - and what a real and tragic issue it is in today’s world. We utilize this reminder to raise community awareness about the importance of responsible driving. Reckless and distracted driving is not just something that needs to be reinforced in teens, but for all residents.
Your City Council continues to take strides to ensure safety on our City streets by utilizing our Three E’s approach. By using targeted Enforcement, strategic Engineering and wide-spread Education, we are driving down the number of accidents which occur in Santa Clarita. We encourage you to do your part, and take personal responsibility every time you put your key in the ignition. By avoiding distractions, following the rules of the road and obeying speed limits, we can help make sure that our City streets are safe for all who use them.
Whether you know an individual represented at the Youth Grove or not, I strongly encourage the community to experience the Evening of Remembrance. Through awareness, education and diligence we can change unsafe driving behaviors and save lives; ours and others. Make this an opportunity to talk to the people in your life about changing driving habits to become safer. As a community, we can make our streets safer for everyone. None of us want to lose a loved one.
The Evening of Remembrance will be held on Wednesday, September 5, at 7 p.m., at the Youth Grove in Central Park, located at 27150 Bouquet Canyon Road. We hope that through this graphic and powerful event, you come away with a better understanding of how devastating a loss is. Let’s all do our best to reduce the risk associated with distracted driving.
Mayor Laurene Weste is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.