Marsha McLean | Remember Those We’ve Lost at the Santa Clarita Youth Grove

Marsha McLean

Recent headlines from around the country have been devastating to read – “Teenage girl dead after car crash,” “One person killed, one airlifted in I-5 crash.” As a parent and grandparent, I know there is no greater fear than losing a loved one.  Unfortunately, many families in our community have received such tragic news.  

One life lost in a traffic-related incident in Santa Clarita is one too many, which is why it is our duty as neighbors to do everything in our power to drive responsibly and safely at all times. 

Each year, we gather at the Youth Grove located in Central Park for the city of Santa Clarita’s annual Evening of Remembrance. This year’s Evening of Remembrance will take place with an in-person Walk of Remembrance on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 6:15 p.m., immediately followed by a touching ceremony that not only honors the lives of Santa Clarita Valley youth that have been lost in traffic-related incidents but also raises awareness about being alert and thinking of others as we drive. 

If you have never visited before, the Youth Grove covers approximately one-half acre in Central Park and is a public memorial that offers families and members of the public a quiet and peaceful place for reflection. The centerpiece of the Youth Grove is a monument that is encircled by 116 pillars that simulate cut tree stumps. This year, two new pillars will be added, bringing the total to 118. Each pillar has a plaque bearing the name of a young life lost in a traffic-related incident, and the design signifies that each life was cut short. 

To any parent who has a child near driving age, or who already has a license, I highly encourage you to attend the Evening of Remembrance. Doing so will allow you to join with your fellow residents to pay your respects to the individuals memorialized in the Youth Grove, while also reinforcing the importance of safe and distraction-free driving. 

Please be sure to arrive early so you can take part in the solemn and impactful Walk of Remembrance, which will begin at 6:15 p.m. and end at the Youth Grove. The Walk of Remembrance creates a powerful show of support for the families of those we have lost and personifies our commitment to improving traffic safety and eliminating unsafe driving behaviors. 

During the Evening of Remembrance ceremony, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Capt. Justin Diez will provide opening remarks and attendees will honor the youth through a candle lighting and musical performances. The annual “Forever Young” slideshow presentation will highlight each person memorialized in the Youth Grove and everyone in attendance will take the vow to “Know More” about the impacts of unsafe driving in Santa Clarita and take action so that “No More” deaths occur as a result of traffic-related incidents in our community. 

It is important to remember that we must continue the conversation with our loved ones even after the Evening of Remembrance concludes. Traffic safety is a shared responsibility and it takes the commitment of every driver, pedestrian and cyclist to see success. When speaking with your children or grandchildren, particularly those who are of or approaching driving age, reiterate what they can do to remain safe when they are behind the wheel. Additionally, make sure to reinforce safe behaviors when they are riding their bike or skateboard and when they are walking around the neighborhood. We can further emphasize these points by being positive role models and exhibiting safe behaviors ourselves. 

I want to thank our community members and organizers for holding such a critical event. When we come together, we can do whatever it takes to help eliminate traffic fatalities for good. 

To learn more about the Evening of Remembrance and the Santa Clarita Youth Grove, please visit the city’s website at 

Marsha McLean is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected]. 

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