NEWMAN - The 2019 Newman Fall Festival grand marshal distinction goes not to an individual whose efforts have enhanced the community and its trademark celebration but to a group of men and women dedicated to public safety.
Julie Barcelos, chair of the Fall Festival Committee, said the Newman Police Department will be honored as the 2019 grand marshal.
“We are honoring the memory of Cpl. Ronil Singh, but also all the officers who work so hard,” Barcelos told Mattos Newspapers. “The police department has always been a key piece of the Fall Festival through the years. They do a lot for us and keep the Fall Festival atmosphere what we want it to be, which is family-friendly and safe.”
Police Chief Randy Richardson said he was deeply appreciative of the honor.
“To recognize us this year, after the tragedy of Ronil, shows that the community does care about the police department,” he commented. “Law enforcement doesn’t always have the best reputation. We deal with people on their worst day. This shows us that the community does support law enforcement.”
Barcelos said Fall Festival organizers are planning a moment of remembrance for Cpl. Singh during the Sept. 1 parade, but emphasized that the grand marshal distinction reflects appreciation to the department as a whole for its support to the Fall Festival and the community through the years.
“We don’t want people to forget (the tragedy), but we also want them to continue to be supportive of the officers who are here every day keeping our community safe,” Barcelos said.
The committee, she added, hopes to establish a monument in Pioneer Park honoring law enforcement.
Proceeds from a special auction at the Aug. 30 “Evening Under the Stars” wine-and-cheese event in the downtown plaza will support that project.
A “Thin Blue Line” theme has been woven into a number of Fall Festival events and materials, Barcelos noted.
The support of the community has been instrumental in helping police officers and department staff through the nearly eight months since Cpl. Singh was shot and killed during a traffic stop of a suspected drunken driver, Richardson reflected.
“It is how we have gotten through. As when any family member dies, you need the support of people around you,” he commented. “We felt that, from this community and surrounding communities.”