The South Pasadena Police and Fire departments opened up their respective shops to the public. Photo by Joseph Ruiz

A crowd of thousands joined in the Sunday celebration down Mission Street for what is known as the South Pasadena Police and Fire Department Open House.

Helicopters came and went. Police dogs displayed attack protocols under the watchful eye of their trainers while scores of people lined up to take tours of the police station and the fire department.

“This is just another example of what a great community this is,” said Interim Police Chief Brian Solinsky as he enjoyed the festivities. “Look at all these people. It’s a good-sized crowd. We estimate 1,800 came through so far today but that’s just the police estimate. I imagine you add in the other and it’s well over that.”

The other was the Cruz’n for Cars show, which is one of the largest fundraisers for the South Pasadena float that’s entered into the Tournament of Roses parade every year. It’s expected to bring in about $100,000, if past years are any guide.

The young kids especially took to all the vintage cars. They included four-year-old Lucy Stofer, who was particularly taken by the vintage police cars.
“They are so cool,” she said. “I really like them. I just think they are the best.” One of the reasons she likes them is because she wants to be a police officer when she grows up.

“Yep, she wants to be a police officer,” said mom Jenny Stofer. “I don’t know why but I think that’s good.”

As some young people were experiencing the event for the first time and a possible career in law enforcement, one man was experiencing the open house for the last time.

Mike Neff, who was profiled in last week’s Review, is retiring after 36 years. Neff was all smiles this past Sunday, saying it’s the community that he’s going to miss the most.

“This is just terrific,” he said as he stood next to the helicopter that had just landed. “I just can’t think of a better way to say goodbye. Look around. All these people. It’s what makes South Pasadena so special. I’ve said this over and over again, we have great support from the South Pasadena community.”

Fire officials were not to be outdone as they opened up their enormous bay area where they housed their fire engines and all other necessary apparatus. At one juncture, they set a small fire in a container and asked one resident to extinguish the blaze, which was done under the watchful eye of the firefighter.

“These open houses are really important because they allow the public to see what we do and how we do it,” said Paul Riddle, Fire Chief for the SPFD, in an earlier interview. “It also brings us closer together with the community.”

The new police mascot Justice was on hand, whose name was chosen by an elementary grade schooler. Kids were fingerprinted and photographed for safety and hands-on CPR also was available, but it was the helicopters that were the biggest hit, officials said.

And the crowds that lined up across the street from the landing zone were an indication of that popularity. The crowds were three to four deep watching the birds land and take off.

South Pasadena does not have a helicopter but partners with other cities like Pasadena when necessary. The helicopters that participated in Sunday’s event were from Los Angeles County, San Bernardino and Pasadena. They landed on top of the parking structure at the corner of Hope Street and Fremont Avenue.

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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