Biker fundraiser for the 19 fallen firefighters; annual Prescott parade a tribute

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Even as residents of Prescott turned out to honor the 19 firefighters killed a week ago while battling the Yarnell Hill Fire, Valley residents did their part Saturday to support the families of those firefighters and others affected by the wildfire.

The city of Prescott re-tooled its annual Frontier Days parade, a popular tradition, to pay tribute to The Yarnell19.

“These are my brothers a lot of good friends were lost,” said Prescott firefighter Wade Ward.  “This was the last place I wanted to be today walking in front of people but it was also good therapy.”

Families of the fallen, who have for the most part steered clear of media coverage, rode in the parade atop a fire truck that was followed by a riderless horse with boots reversed in the stirrups, a centuries-old symbol of honor for fallen warriors.

The tribute, which brought tears to the eyes of all in attendance, kicked off the annual Prescott Frontier Days parade.

“With the tragedy, I think it's drawn a lot of people up here hurting, working to get through it, putting a different spin on the parade and festivities.  It's been hard for a lot of folks,” said Chris McKie.

The theme of this year's parade, "Champions Past and Present," took on a whole new meaning for all in attendance, striking just the right chord with the tight-knit community.

"I think there's a lot more pride out there today," said parade-goer Dawn McFarland, waving away tears. "It's hard. It was emotional, real emotional."

"It readlly solidifies the town and brings us together," Chris McKie said of the long-standing tradition.

Here in Scottsdale, it was breakfast and lunch, but Iron-horse style.

“We're out here to honor and celebrate The Yarnell 19 and give back a little to them and their families,” Rory Simmons said.

“The biggest reason I'm out here is to support the 19 firefighters and I'm here to help with the charity and raise funds, it's a great event,” Tom Hajek said.

It’s a fundraiser put on by the Harley Davidson store in Scottsdale.

“It's great that the state of Arizona is standing behind these men and taking care of their families," Robert Schmitt.  said. "They take care of us, we take care of them and it's a great opportunity to give back, that's what it's all about."

Along with the food sales, 10 percent of any clothing sales and $1,000 of every new bike sold goes to the 100 Club.

“To the families it means a lot, because these were all young men who were killed in this and this is a great opportunity to come together and help support these people in various ways,” said Bill Langer with the 100 Club.

This was one of several fundraisers for the 100 Club and so far they've raised more than $500,000.