1/9 Ceremony for Montecito: A Night of Remembrance, Solidarity, and Hope

By Sharon Byrne   |   January 14, 2021

As our community approaches the third anniversary of the 1/9 Thomas Fire Debris Flow, we find ourselves in the third consecutive disaster we’ve faced as a community, and this time it’s a global pandemic. This Saturday, we’d love to gather everyone, come together as a community, and remember those we lost in the early morning hours of January 9, 2018. However, in consideration of the present stay-at-home order, a team of community partners will host a commemorative live-stream ceremony to honor and remember the massive event that befell our beloved community on that fateful day. While it altered our geologic landscape permanently, and put us into a long recovery cycle, the Debris Flow also brought us together as a community, where we discovered new strengths within ourselves, and new connections with each other.

Event specifics: This event will be completely virtual to protect everyone’s health and safety. It’s simple and short this year, but powerful. Chief Kevin Taylor will open the event with a short speech from the fire station. Firefighters will light 23 candles commemorating the victims of the Debris Flow. There will be a moment of silence. Then, the bells from our schools, churches, and fire station will ring 23 times in unison across our community. Finally, a searchlight will be lit at Montecito Union School in honor of this community’s losses on 1/9/18. 

How to participate: Please feel welcomed to participate at whatever level is most comfortable for you. You will probably be able to see the searchlight and hear the bells from your home in Montecito. KEYT will live stream the event from the fire station, and broadcast it on their station.

Find information on how to attend the ceremony Zoom event at montecitoas

Event organizers encourage attendees to RSVP at the Facebook event here: facebook.com/montecitoassociation.

For more information, go to montecitoassociation.org, or call me at the Montecito Association at (805) 636-0475. 

Raising Our Light 2021 Event Sponsors: 

Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade 
Montecito Association
Montecito Community Foundation 

If you’d like to donate to help cover the event costs, please contact the Bucket Brigade.

Helpful tips on navigating the anniversary of 1/9 from our Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness Department’s Community Wellness Team:

It is a normal experience for the anniversary of a disaster to bring forward feelings of fear, anxiety, and sadness. This year will be especially challenging given the COVID stay-at-home orders. We are not able to gather together in person as we normally would, but this should not stop us from supporting each other. We can gather virtually, and know that we are all sharing the feelings and memories of this day, together. 

Tips for coping: Be gentle with yourself. Show yourself the same kindness and patience you’d give to others during this time. Allow yourself to feel angry or sad and recognize that these emotions are natural.

Talk about your memories. Share stories, memories, feelings with others.

Accept kindness and help from others. Support from family and friends is critical to healing. We encourage you to allow people in your life to show their care and concern.

Help others. For many people, volunteering is a healthy way to heal.  Participate in a purposeful/meaningful activity. Activities can be as simple as delivering food or a meal, donating clothing, or reaching out to another with a warm phone call. We can help connect you to groups doing wonderful work in our community, like Adam’s Angels, the Salvation Army, Bucket Brigade, and more.

Reach out to others and stay connected. And if you feel that you need additional help beyond that of a friend or family, reach out to a mental health professional.

The Community Wellness Team, formed to provide support to the community following the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow, remains very active and is here for our community. The Community Wellness Team can be reached by calling (805) 364-


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