SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Local heroes have been honored in an upbeat and at times very emotional luncheon in Santa Barbara.
It coincides with a recent edition of the Santa Barbara Independent featuring more than 20 people. The special issue has come out just before the holidays for the last 32 years.
Profiles of each winner were featured in the paper.
All them received a special framed copy today and we given the microphone to say some words about their cause and appreciation for the honor.
The lunch was held at the SOHO nightclub/restaurant dining room.
Independent Editor in Chief Marianne Partridge emceed the event with colorful descriptions of each winner, a personal story and a strong introduction.
Unlike other awards ceremonies for national honors, no one here was cut off in their speech.
The largest group of honorees included representatives of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Sheriff's Department, U.S. Forest Service and Search and Rescue. They were on the scene during the violent Whittier fire in July where children were trapped in a camp setting off Highway 154.
Ray Lopez with the Circle V ranch said 30 kids and 12 staff members were able to get out immediately but others were not. Nearby ranch properties were also surrounded by fire and 80 children had to be rounded up and protected.
"The flames were 60-feet high," said Lopez. He said the emergency responders handled it with "calmness and poise"
Music philanthropist Hale Milgrem put his hand on his heart and said "peace, love and happiness" as he and his wife Anne received their award as longtime supporters of the arts locally. Milgren's home has been here for years, and his career has taken him to the top spot with Capital records in Hollywood. "Music is such a creative process," he said. "It can transport you to another world."
Teresa Kuskey Nowak was honored as the director of La Boheme a colorful dance group that has made multiple appearances in Santa Barbara. The performers of a variety of ages and backgrounds donate their time to non-profits and public festivals. They are often a highlight at the Summer Solstice Parade, the Downtown Holiday Parade and the California Avocado Festival.
Some of the winners had pre-written notes, and others spoke freely. The honor became a very real moment and at times voices cracked and eyes watered.
Many members of the Independent staff were present along with California State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, and former Congresswoman Lois Capps.
A full list of winners can be found at :https://www.independent.com/news/2017/nov/22/santa-barbaras-local-heroes-2017/