I-5 caravan through Whatcom County honors sacrifice of 9/11

A caravan of motorcycles and emergency vehicles — including law-enforcement officers and firefighters from Whatcom County — is heading from Anacortes north to the Canadian border on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 11, as part of an international recognition of the terrorist attacks of 2001.

The parade to honor the 9/11 victims started years ago in Vancouver, B.C., said Division Chief Henry Hollander of North Whatcom Fire and Rescue. A U.S. contingent has celebrated with Canadian military and first responders at the Peace Arch border crossing, but “we’ve never had the American ride before,” Hollander said.

Hollander said invitations have been sent to law-enforcement agencies and fire departments across Washington state, but he was unsure how many would participate. He said Whatcom County agencies include North Whatcom Fire, Border Patrol, Homeland Security, and Whatcom County Fire District 7. He said the ride is scheduled to start about 8 a.m. in Anacortes and should travel through Bellingham about 8:30 a.m. He said the caravan will be using the left lane of Interstate 5.

Along the way, the caravan will be visible from overpasses, Hollander said. All times should be considered approximate, to allow for traffic delays.

“We should arrive simultaneously at the border, both rides,” Hollander said. At the border, a solemn ceremony honoring 9/11 victims is planned at Peace Arch State Park, followed by a free lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs and a chance to meet the participants. No passport will be required as long as visitors remain in the park. A seasonal Discover Pass or day-use pass is required for parking in the park.

Part of the border ceremony includes a traditional display of Canadian and American flags from the extended booms of fire department aerial ladders. “We’ll park four ladder trucks, two on each side of the Peace Arch,” Hollander said.

Bellingham Firepipes, the bagpipe and drum corps of Whatcom County firefighters, is among the bands scheduled to perform at the ceremony.

“They’ll lead the procession through the Peace Arch,” Hollander said.

The event is a fundraiser for the Honour House Society in British Columbia, which provides living accommodations for the families of hospitalized military personnel, law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency services workers. For more information, go to 911memorialride.org.