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Flags honor Newtown

Local Boy Scouts turned planned event into a memorial for shooting victims

Posted: December 30, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 30, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Troop 48 Boy Scout Bryan Singer, right, helps fold a flag with a younger Scout as Brick Davis looks on. The troop and other participants carried 26 flags from Canyon Country to Westfield Valencia Town Center in honor of the 26 victims of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.


Boy Scout Troop 48 expected just enough participants Saturday to carry the 26 flags in honor of the victims of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

But about 50 Boy Scouts, siblings and parents joined the Canyon Country-based troop Saturday afternoon to ride their bikes to Westfield Valencia Town Center, where the flags were folded and will be sent to Newtown along with cards and notes from the community.

“It was planned just as a normal bike ride, but this is our way to give back and honor the tragedy,” said Alex Bonelli, 15, from Troop 48. Bonelli, a student at Hart High School, led the pack of 50 bike riders from Ralphs on Soledad Canyon Road and Whites Canyon Road to the mall and helped lead the flag-folding ceremony.

The troop took its break for the holidays before Dec. 14, the day a man fatally shot 20 children and six adult faculty members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Scoutmaster Bob Gaby said the troop first met again last week and decided to turn the planned bike ride into a memorial event.

“They all really embraced it,” Gaby said of the Scouts. “They wanted to do something in the community.”

Mallgoers watched the 26 scouts and siblings ride into the mall with flags on their bikes and stand in formation as seven scouts from Troop 48 helped fold all the flags. Gaby called out the names of the Sandy Hook Elementary victims as each folded flag was placed in a box.

Peggy Kaeppeli, whose son Markus, 12, is in Troop 48, said the scouts went to the shooting range last week as part of a planned excursion. Some parents felt it might not have been appropriate, she said, but it was a good opportunity to discuss how the Scouts could honor the school shooting victims.

“Issues come up, and the Boy Scouts is a place for them to learn, especially since this troop is smaller than others, more tight-knit,” said Kaeppeli, whose other son, Matthew, 10, is in Cub Scouts and also participated in the bike ride. “They are learning safely about guns in the Boy Scouts.”

Gaby had extended invitations to area Boy Scout troops, and some participants came from other parts of the Santa Clarita Valley and the San Fernando Valley, he said.

Nancy Yakshe came to the event as a spectator and watched her son Dillon, 12, and her husband, Ron, attach one of the flags to Dillon’s bike for the ride.

Dillon is in Troop 499 and heard about the event from his troop leader, his mother said.

“He wanted to be here to honor the victims,” said the Stevenson Ranch woman, noting that two of the victims were Tiger Scouts. “In Boy Scouts you’re all family.”



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