More than 100 Santa Clarita residents, including mayor Marsha McLean, took part in the 10th annual Evening of Remembrance held at the Youth Grove in Central Park.
October 14th marked the anniversary, where friends and families paid tribute to those who lost their lives before the age of 24 in traffic-related incidents. The 10th anniversary saw 93 names being remembered, with two more lives being added since the previous year.
The evening began with a walk of remembrance towards the Youth Grove. Participants walked together past volunteers, who held signs urging the public to drive safely. The group separated as they reached the Youth Grove, which contained 93 pillars each bearing the name of a young life cut short.
The Youth Grove memorial was home to the ceremony for the Evening of Remembrance, as volunteers read the names of each victim aloud. A bell was tolled afterwards in their honor.
After the ceremony was over, attendees spoke with one another; learning the story of several lives forever honored by the Youth Grove.
“It helps me cope by knowing that other people are here that are going through the same thing,” said Brittany Reph, who came out to remember her sister, Nicole Hoffman. “I told people her story because I think it’s important that people know how important life is, and to take life to the fullest.
Nicole Hoffman and her boyfriend, Robert Corona Jr., lost their lives in a fatal crash on Highway 14 back in 2013.
The Youth Grove memorial first began as a concept first presented by Debbie Knight and Katherine Tabajdi. Together they presented the idea to the city of Santa Clarita in hopes of establishing a safe place where people could remember their lost friend.
“With this we wanted to remind people that this is something that really happens. Something that we can avoid by making good decisions.” said Knight.
As the evening drew to a close, residents took home with them the importance of safe driving, a message urged by Alice Renolds; who has two of her sons memorialized in the Youth Grove.
“Any chance that we have to spread the word about safe driving, whether it’s reckless driving or texting and driving, we need to get the word out,” said Renolds. Kids and adults need to know that car they’re driving is a lethal weapon and that life is precious”.
Alice and her husband Tom lost their youngest sons Danny and Timmy Renolds, when they were both killed in a car crash on Feb. 17, 2000.
“I don’t want another parent to go through what we’ve been through,” said Alice. “I miss my kids every single day”.