Valley News -

By Diane Sieker

Anza community barbecue shows appreciation for efforts during Cranston Fire


Last updated 8/22/2018 at 3pm

Diane Sieker

Jedediah Weaver sits in the fire truck at the Anza Community Appreciation Barbecue Saturday, Aug. 18.

The Anza Community Appreciation Barbecue was held Saturday, Aug. 18, at the Anza Community Hall.

The standing-room only event was planned and organized by Bentley Hunt and Danny Stone along with the help of dozens of volunteers and local organizations. Hundreds of people turned out to meet and thank the many first responders who fought the Cranston Fire, enjoy live music, play games, socialize with new and old friends and consume more than 300 pounds of barbecued beef brisket, lamb and pork.

"In my honest opinion, Bentley did an amazing job getting this party organized," Bill Donahue said. "The party showed appreciation for those in the community that selflessly assisted others during the electrical outage caused by the Cranston Fire. From average citizens, community activists, civic organizations, first responders and representatives from the Anza Electric Cooperative, all the groups were well represented."

Celebrants enjoyed country music by the Golden Country Boys Band of Norco and local favorites Michael Thomas and Craig Downey. Foot tapping and dancing commenced well before the sun went down.

The Anza Veterans of Foreign Wars Color Guard performed flag duties as first responders lined up beside them.

Kathy Blair sang the national anthem as Lake Riverside Estates trick pilot Stuart Smith zoomed twice overhead. The crowd, unaware of the fly-over, gasped, cheered and applauded in response.

"Not only did everyone pull together for the fire, but everyone pulled together for this incredible appreciation dinner. It was wonderful," Blair said.

The Rev. Kevin Watson led the crowd in an invocation before the meal.

Beef brisket, rotisserie lamb and pit-cooked pork was provided by Stone and his assistants. Steve Silkotch prepared Dutch oven-simmered beans. Rolls, desserts and salads were served alongside fried rice, wraps, egg rolls and coleslaw, all provided by volunteers and cooks.

As dinner was winding down, guest speakers took to the stage and thanked members of the community.

Mimi Brown of the Anza Lions Club said a few words, followed by the presentation of an original painting by artist Susan Eyer-Anderson to Anza Electric Cooperative General Manager Kevin Short. The painting will be displayed for public viewing before it is installed at the AEC offices. The artwork depicted a firefighter standing before a wall of flame that is consuming an electrical pole. The words "Thank you" are arranged at the top of the image.

Short introduced several members of the AEC team, who worked to restore power during the outage crisis.

Miss Anza Emma Hennings also spoke briefly.

Members of Anza's Hmong families provided food for the dinner. A speaker from the group said that the Hmong people were proud Americans and that Anza is made of people of many nationalities. They were happy to show support for the community and were greeted with generous applause.

"The Hmong residents, who make their home here in the Valley, want to take this opportunity to personally thank the men and women of the fire department and Anza Valley co-ops," Richard Ku said. "They have put their lives and safety on the line over that of others by protecting and providing services above and beyond the call of duty to the public in emergency and disaster situations each and every day. We are grateful to all of them and their dedication and hard work in protecting our community."

Steve Gardner

Firefighters assist children as they learn to aim a fire hose at the Anza Community Appreciation Barbecue Saturday, Aug. 18.

The community received another surprise, Donahue said.

"Long after the initial speech by the elder in the Hmong community and the presentation of the painting to AEC, Erinne Roscoe was making some other comments at the mic," Donahue said. "I told her that the Hmongs wanted to announce a donation to the Community Hall. It was a wad of cash."

A reported $1,697 was donated that evening by the Hmong community.

A raffle for a generator was held, and the proceeds were donated to the Redshank Riders. Ashley Lynn Bingham was declared the winner.

Hunt said that the barbecue may become an annual event.

See the entire photo gallery here.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at [email protected]


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