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Ride to Remember Oso honors victims, strong communities

 

Christopher Andersson

Bike riders come into Darrington at the end of the Ride to Remember Oso on March 19 to commemorate the third anniversary of the Oso landslide.

To honor the third anniversary of the Oso landslide which took 43 lives and wiped out much of the small Oso community, local community members gathered to remember and hold a bike ride.

The Ride to Remember Oso bike ride was held on March 19, taking riders from Legion Park in Arlington, up SR 530 all the way to the Darrington Community Center. A shorter "JoJo" Family Ride was also held during the day.

At the end of the two rides, community members, state officials and local leaders gathered to remember the Oso landslide that happened on March 22, 2014.

The idea of a community bike ride to commemorate the event grew out of the father of Jovan "JoJo" Mangual, who asked the owner of Arlington Velo bike shop about a possible bike ride.

With the help of funding from the America's Best Communities competition, the bike ride became a reality on March 19.

"The community has always shown a lot of support for the victims of the slide," said Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee while speaking at the "Celebration of Strong Communities" event held in Darrington at the end of the bike ride.

Mangual's favorite color, bright yellow, has become a symbol of support for many.

"I went to a school assembly they had and all the kids were wearing day-glow yellow shoelaces," said Inslee.

On the bike ride many riders wore yellow and Mangual's father rode a brand new yellow bike built and supplied by Arlington Velo.

Many people who helped during the day of the slide and after gathered at the remembrance.

"As a first responder to the Oso mudslide, I'll have to say that in our small part, our department was definitely overwhelmed. I know I was," said Kevin Lenon, vice-chairman of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe.

"No one department can train for a disaster of that magnitude," he said, and he thanked many of the cooperating agencies for their help.

Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin said that many officials and neighboring organizations came to help.

"They've stuck with this community and this valley since before the slide, and they represented us well during some very trying times, some of the most trying times that anybody will ever have," he said.

Rep. Suzan DelBene, U.S. Representative for Washington's 1st Congressional District, recalled the day of the slide and receiving a sweatshirt from Arlington Fire Department's Tom Cooper.

She wore the shirt to the remembrance and said she'll always be an "honorary member" of the department.

The tragedy of the slide also brought Arlington and Darrington officials closer together as well.

"[Mayor Rankin] could not be a better partner to have, in times of tribulation and in times of triumph," said Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert.

Since the slide three years ago the communities have come together in efforts to rebuild the Stillaguamish Valley.

Christopher Andersson

U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene speaks at the Darrington Community Center at the "Celebration of Strong Communities" on March 19 to commemorate the third anniversary of the Oso landslide.

"We have seen a rebirth from this disaster that has been impressive," said Inslee.

"It has been heartwarming to see the work that we have done over the last three years to remember the lives that have been lost and the families that have been impacted," said DelBene.

These rebuilding efforts have culminated in the two communities entering the national America's Best Communities competition.

They are currently one of the eight semi-finalists in the U.S. and will learn the final results on April 19.

The competition was meant "to show the rest of the county just how special these communities are," and to show "a sense of self, a sense of strength and a sense of innovation that could economically redevelop themselves into vibrant communities," said Tolbert.

The bike ride serves as the capstone for Arlington and Darrington's entry, after other projects have been completed over the last year.

 

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