PALMDALE – A crowd of more than 200 that included firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, city officials from both Lancaster and Palmdale, and family and friends of Arnie Quinones came out Tuesday to witness the Dedication & Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Arnie Quinones Park, named in honor of the fallen firefighter.
“This park forever more is going to represent the best of the best of our community,” said Norm Hickling, Deputy for Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. “Arnie and Captain Ted Hall, they represented the best of their communities. They were willing to fight when they were in peril to protect their community.”
LA County firefighters Captain Ted Hall and Specialist Arnaldo “Arnie” Quinones were killed in the line of duty on Sunday, August 30, 2009, during the Station Fire, when their emergency response vehicle went over a mountain side and fell 800 feet into a steep canyon during fire suppression activities protecting Camp 16 in Palmdale.
“A tribute and a park in his neighborhood shows that we have an opportunity to allow this memory to continue and remind everybody serving today and those that will serve in the future that this community is behind you 100 percent,” said Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford. “We will never forget.”
Lancaster Councilmember Sandra Johnson said the tribute held a special significance for her because her husband was a retired firefighter paramedic.
“We all hold our heads up high for these heroes that we will never forget, for being there everyday and protecting us,” Johnson said. She also presented a certificate of recognition on behalf of the City of Lancaster and the City Council. “Thank you to all of our heroes, we thank you everyday.”
Some of the most touching words of the tribute came from Arnie Quinones’ brother Ozzie, who recalled memories he had shared with his brother and plans they had made in the days leading up to his brother’s death.
“We went from planning a trip to planning my brother’s funeral,” Ozzie Quinones said.
Ozzie Quinones said the family was grateful for the outpouring of love and support they have received from the community since the tragic event.
“I will never forget my brother, it’s impossible; As I look around, why would I want to ever forget him,” said Ozzie Quinones.
“Thank you for giving us a little light and for bringing my brother back… always remember that we will never forget.”
Arnie Quinones Park, formerly known as Hillside Park, is a 10-acre site located at 50th Street West and Avenue N. The site was developed in 1995 and has 2.5 acres developed as a turf play field. Future developments of the park will include a restroom and storage building, an additional play field, and a tot lot area, according to City of Palmdale officials.
Below is a tribute video to Arnie Quinones created by MGS Custom Bikes in Lancaster. Owners Mike and Paula Stafford describe Arnie as both a customer and close friend. The video shows footage of Arnie riding his custom bike he called the Ghostrider, as well as pictures from his memorial. Tuesday several motorcyclists also attended the ceremony to pay tribute to Arnie.