By Councilwoman Marsha McLean
Imagine reading the headline of a news story – “Teen Killed in Car Crash.” Now imagine that teen was a member of your family. Many people in our community have experienced such a tragedy. As a community, it is our responsibility to not only remember and honor the lives lost, but also do our part to effect change, so no more loved ones are lost.
Visitors to Central Park are familiar with the Youth Grove, an area of the park dedicated to Santa Clarita youth who have died in traffic-related incidents. This solemn place features a central monument with simulated tree stumps that symbolize the 116 lives of Santa Clarita youth that have been cut short. When walking through the Youth Grove, you are able to honor their memories and make a personal commitment to spreading the message of safe driving. I encourage each of you to visit the Youth Grove, especially if you have children of driving age. A visit to this touching memorial can spark important conversations about safety behind the wheel and as a passenger.
I also want to invite you to attend the city of Santa Clarita’s annual Evening of Remembrance, which takes place each September. Though the event was presented virtually in 2020, the Evening of Remembrance will return to the Youth Grove for a special event Wednesday, Sept. 29, beginning at 6:15 p.m. This event pays respect to those memorialized with a special tree stump in the Youth Grove and is also an educational opportunity that reinforces the importance of safe driving for residents of all ages.
The evening will begin with a Walk of Remembrance, which is a unifying experience led by Tom and Alice Renolds and community leaders through Central Park. Following the walk, a ceremony will be held that includes music from the SCV Youth Orchestra, remarks from Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda and a video tribute to those honored in the Youth Grove.
The Evening of Remembrance is a powerful experience that does more than recognizing the youth whose lives have been lost. It also serves as a critical reminder of just how precious life is and that each of us must take action to ensure no family ever has to endure the pain of losing a child in a traffic-related incident again.
Once the event is over, please continue the conversation with your children about what they can do to stay safe when behind the wheel. This includes obeying all traffic laws and speed limits, disconnecting from distractions and never driving while under the influence – or getting into the car of a driver who is impaired by alcohol or drugs.
The city of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station have partnered to develop the award-winning Heads Up Traffic Safety campaign, which offers information and tips to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists on maximizing safety and eliminating traffic collisions. You can learn more and find resources for your family by visiting santa-clarita.com/HeadsUp.
I hope that you will take the time to attend the Evening of Remembrance next week and participate in this important community event. Together, we can work toward putting an end to traffic fatalities once and for all.
To learn more about the Santa Clarita Youth Grove and the annual Evening of Remembrance, please visit the city’s website at santa-clarita.com/YouthGrove.
Marsha McLean is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].