California Memorial May Be Largest Tribute Outside New York

Nearly 1,100 New York City firefighters, police officers and family members will be in Clovis Dec. 8 in what organizers predict could be the largest event outside New York honoring Sept. 11 victims.

Clovis Fire Chief Jim Schneider said it will be an opportunity to share the brotherhood that all firefighters feel.

"We're going to be here to greet those people, to be hosts for them when they come to Clovis and show both love and friendship," he said.

He said plans for the event have continued to grow, as more agencies and organizations offer to help.

"It's going to be a big-time event. I feel very fortunate as a fire chief to be associated with this," he said.

Lane Fye, a Pelco spokesman, said security and traffic control will be provided by more than 100 law-enforcement officers from Valley agencies.

Fresno Mayor Alan Autry will emcee the event, which will begin with remarks by Clovis Mayor Jose Flores.

Flores, who is also a Fresno County Sheriff's lieutenant, said it will probably be one of the most significant events in the city's history.

"It's something that is once in a lifetime -- I think for healing purposes a lot of us on this coast need events like this. And we haven't had anything as big as this in the whole region," he said.

The guests of honor will receive another private dinner the night after the ceremony, and will receive gift baskets loaded with various Valley agriculture products before they leave.

The event will feature about 400 empty chairs, each with the names of a police officer, firefighter or port authority officer killed in the attack.

There will also be two fire trucks with the ladders extended to form an arch.

Faye said crossing ladders in that manner is a traditional rite at firefighter funerals.

The event will include performances by local musicians and conclude with a fireworks display.

Police officials said all nearby businesses and residences to Pelco will still be accessible.

Street closures include all of Pelco Way and portions of Peach, Dakota, Pontiac, Lind and Villa avenues. They will be closed from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 8.