By Dana Cadey
Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Colo.
LONGMONT, Colo. — The Mexican city of Ciudad Guzmán is receiving a retired firetruck from Longmont as part of a decades-long relationship between the two communities through the Longmont Sister Cities Association.
Ciudad Guzmán Mayor Alejandro Barragán was presented with the truck Saturday afternoon in a ceremony at the Longmont Museum led by LSCA president Janice Rebhan. After an opening performance by the Skyline High School mariachi band, Barragán addressed the small crowd outside the museum, 400 Quail Road, and thanked the city for the gift.
“With this truck, our firefighters will be able to respond more efficiently and effectively to emergency situations,” he said. “We are deeply touched by your act of generosity and your commitment to community.”
This weekend marks the first visit to Longmont by Barragán, who was joined by Ciudad Guzmán Fire Chief Carlos Chalico. On Friday, LSCA welcomed its guests to the U.S. with a reception at the Longmont Civic Center that included a speech by Mayor Joan Peck.
“It’s really positive to have the mayors, on both sides, supporting our program of student exchange,” said LSCA Vice President Courtney Michelle.
Michelle said Ciudad Guzmán only has two fire hydrants for its population of over 100,000 people, which makes the city a perfect candidate for the retired truck. Longmont has given a couple of firetrucks to Ciudad Guzmán before, but this is the biggest one; it’s able to hold 1,100 gallons of water, which is twice the capacity as the city’s current vehicles.
“They really need the resources, and I think it’ll definitely save lives,” she said.
In his address, Barragán explained the donation of the truck is especially timely, as the city is preparing for an uptick in wildfires during the dry season. He called the donation invaluable not just for the city, but for the entire region.
“Such dedication has left an indelible mark on our city and has inspired all of us to continue working for a better world,” he said. “We couldn’t be more grateful for your support and solidarity.”
Chalico will drive the truck to Mexico alongside Israel Diaz, who was born in Ciudad Guzmán and now lives in Minnesota, and LSCA Board Member Michael Seaton. The journey started Saturday night and will take about 36 hours, said Rebhan, who also presented Barragán and Chalico with a helmet from Longmont Fire and a toy stuffed Dalmatian.
Several ambassadors for LSCA will visit Ciudad Guzmán this summer as part of the organization’s student exchange program. Erie High School freshman Ayden Wagner-Grull, one of three ambassadors who came to Saturday’s ceremony, said he’s looking forward to traveling out of the country for the first time.
“I’m excited to get to know the culture and meet the people there,” he said.
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