For the 11th consecutive year, Long Beach firefighter Gary Biggerstaff on Wednesday will lead hundreds of motorcyclists from Trabuco Canyon to Long Beach to commemorate 9/11.
Biggerstaff used to organize a ceremony at his house, but the annual event outgrew the space, he said.
And while he would like more people to honor the memory of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks, he sees the silver lining in the tapering off of enthusiasm.
"It helps it to be smaller and more manageable," Biggerstaff said. "Last year, it was easier to manage."
Unlike the 10th anniversary of 9/11 -- which was held just four months after the killing of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attacks -- last year's event drew hundreds fewer motorcyclists, Biggerstaff said.
"Last year, we had 275 riders and it was toned down quite a bit -- the 10-year anniversary was huge," Biggerstaff said. "Last year, we kept it on the down low and that's where it is now."
The 2011 ride featured more than 1,000 motorcyclists, with a small fraction running red lights and causing aggravation for police, Biggerstaff said.
"I wish police and fire agencies would treat it with the same reverence as in the early years when all the emergency vehicles made a point of being part of it," Biggerstaff said, adding he understands why some law enforcement backed off because of the "1 percent" of scofflaws.
The motorcyclists will leave Cook's Corner in Trabuco Canyon in the afternoon and take Santiago Canyon to the 241 tollway to where it merges into Laguna Canyon Road, and then head south on Pacific Coast Highway to Joe's Crab Shack in Long Beach.
Other events in Orange County planned to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the attacks include:
- Santiago Elementary School students will hold a 9/11 memorial at 8:25 a.m. featuring a speech by Santa Ana Unified School Police Department Sgt. Kevin Phillips, a veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
- Anaheim firefighters will participate in a 9/11 Remembrance Service at the flag poles in front of Anaheim City Hall. The event will begin at 8:46 a.m., the time when the first plane struck the World Trade Center Towers.
- Starting at 9 a.m., at various schools throughout the county, volunteers and Camp Pendleton Marines will refurbish and refresh gardens for fall planting by students to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank.
- At the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, the 12th anniversary of 9/11 will be commemorated with a speech by Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Vincent Coglianese, commanding general at Camp Pendleton. Bruce Herschensohn, an author who was a deputy presidential assistant in the Nixon administration, will also make remarks, and the Orange County Fire Authority will salute the first responders and victims.
- At noon, Irvine Valley College will hold its 12th anniversary 9/11 commemoration ceremony. Orange County Assistant Sheriff Mark Billings will be among those speaking at the event.
- At 1 p.m., volunteers in Mission Viejo will help landscape and plant a garden at a wounded warrior's home in collaboration with Operation Homefront. At 5:30 p.m., the city will hold a 9/11 event at city hall.
- Saddleback Valley Chorale will perform at 6 p.m. in a patriotic concert to commemorate the anniversary in Laguna Niguel.
- Also at 6 p.m., the Newport Mesa Irvine Interfaith Council of religious leaders will commemorate 9/11 with prayers, musical entertainment and a special ceremony at a Church of Latter Day Saints in Irvine.
—City News Service.