Parades to honor police, firefighters

Theme of this year's July 4 parades is 'United We Stand'

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2002

Police and firefighters from Juneau and New York will bring 2002's "United We Stand" parade theme to life on July 4.

Juneau Police Department officers Jerry Nankervis, Kim Martin and Paul Comolli have been chosen as grand marshals for the Juneau parade, while Joe and Mary Sardo will serve as grand marshals for the Douglas Parade. Joe Sardo is a fireman with the New York City Fire Department.

"Normally Douglas doesn't carry a theme for our activities over here," said Rich Poor, president of the Douglas Fourth of July Committee. "(But) we just thought it would be really nice to have somebody from the New York Fire Department actually come to Juneau and be a part of our activities.

"Juneau's so far away from the disaster that occurred over there, and it would be nice to show our appreciation to somebody that was involved with this whole thing."

Gerald Dorsher, who co-chairs the Juneau Festival Committee with his wife Bev, said he was glad Douglas decided to join Juneau in its choice of theme.

"It's a widely used theme this year," he said. "We had picked it way back in January."

The three members of the Juneau Police Department selected as marshals were members of a local crisis team that went to Ground Zero in October, Dorsher said. They provided counseling and emotional support to rescue workers digging in the rubble of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

Nankervis, who has been with the Juneau Police Department since 1987, said the honor was flattering. He, Martin and Comolli made their New York trip through the auspices of Southeast Alaska Critical Incident Stress Management, a group that helps officers in stressful situations talk out their emotions.

The group is organized by Destiny Sargeant, a trauma psychologist with the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, who also put together the New York trip. The three Juneau officers and Sargeant, along with Ketchikan firefighter Dave Hull, were in New York City from Oct. 20 to Oct. 29, Nankervis said.

"You were limited to seven days on scene, and one day in the middle of those seven days on, you had off because they didn't want you to get saturated," Nankervis said.

The three Juneau officers spent much of the week walking around the 18-acre disaster site, letting rescue workers know about the relief services available.

"Right away they wanted to hear about Alaska, which was an absolutely fantastic introduction," said Comolli, who has been with department off and on since 1986. "Rather than talk about them or the event or the trauma you were standing right in the middle of, you told goofy stories about Alaska and tourists and things."

Nankervis estimated the three officers interacted with more than 1,000 officers on a one-on-one basis during the week they spent at Ground Zero.

Poor, the Douglas parade organizer, said Joe Sardo will represent the firefighters who aided the rescue effort, while Mary Sardo will stand in for the spouses of the workers and victims of Sept. 11.

"They certainly go through the stress and the torment and everything else when their (spouses) are out there," he said.

Alaska Airlines is donating air fare to fly the couple to town for the parades. The Juneau event will begin on July 4 at 11 a.m. Applications for groups that wish to march can be picked up at the Mendenhall Library and the visitors center at Centennial Hall. The deadline for applications is June 30.

The Douglas parade will assemble at 1 p.m., and march at 1:30. No applications are required.

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