South Lake Tahoe community rose from the ashes to celebrate the 4th of July |

South Lake Tahoe community rose from the ashes to celebrate the 4th of July

Adam Jensen
Nevada Appeal News Service

“This is so unorganized,” said Jeff Meagher, walking among a group of about 15 toward the starting point of one South Lake Tahoe neighborhood’s Fourth of July tradition.

“It always has been,” was the quick reply from his sister, Megan, credited with starting the parade about 10 years ago.

Created simply “because the Tahoe Keys had one and our neighborhood didn’t,” according to Megan, the Independence Day celebration reached unprecedented proportions on Wednesday, revealing residents unwilling to be torn apart by the destruction caused by the Angora fire.

“We need it. This is a good thing to bring our community back together and not let the fire win,” Megan said, standing in front of the remains of her family’s Mt. Olympia Drive home.

Red, white and blue ribbons shined brighter against a blackened mail box, balloons stood in stark contrast to the burnt shell of a vehicle they were attached to and laughter took on added significance as members of the badly damaged neighborhood in the Tahoe Mountain area took a celebratory lap around Snow Mountain and Mt. Olympia Drive.

Neighborhood regulars were joined by supporters from all over South Lake Tahoe, two forest service engines and a jubilant contingent from Little Bear Lane, a nearby street, towing a ski boat full of well-wishers.

By its end, the parade had grown to more than 100 people riding bikes, waving flags, donning their most spirited gear and blasting patriotic music through the gutted forest.

Celebrating the Fourth of July holiday was paramount, but an undercurrent of uncertainty was inescapable throughout the event.

People talked of an upcoming meeting regarding cleanup efforts, asked each other if they had found a place to stay or just said hello to a neighbor they hadn’t seen since the start of the fire on the afternoon of June 24.

This was a parade drawing few spectators.

Many of those people dotting the roadsides had lost homes themselves, but took a brief break from sifting through the rubble to wave a flag, clap or cheer on the caravan.

One resident of Mt. Olympia Drive, Mitch Delariva, watched from the sidelines, waving to a neighbor and promising to catch up with what’s going on with her sometime soon.

“I’m glad to see the neighborhood is going to stay strong – that’s important,” said Delariva, before returning to the slow process of rebuilding his home.