Monday, July 4, 2016

How Sierra Madre came to have a 4th of July Parade "Hometown Hero"

Sierra Madre's very first Hometown Hero was given his award under some peculiar conditions. Not that John Shear didn't deserve such an honor. No, his heroism can never be challenged. John had literally put his life on the line in order to save the life of a small child. He accomplished this without having even a moment of doubt. John simply did what needed to be done, and in the briefest instant of time.

Here is an account of what happened on that fateful day at Santa Anita Racetrack. It ran in the Los Angeles Times on March 22, 2011, and was written by that paper's celebrated sports columnist Bill Plaschke. And please, do not forget, John Shear did all of this at an extraordinary 90 years of age.

March 'heroism' fades, but John Shear is a hero for all time - Our television screens are filled this month with the breathtaking exploits of young men in short pants and tattoos, and for their dramatic efforts we call them heroes, and, really, we have no idea.

You want March Madness? How about an old man saving the life of a little girl by throwing himself in front of a frightened horse?

You want one shining moment? It happened a couple of weeks ago, when longtime Santa Anita paddock guard John Shear, 90, tossed a 6-year-old girl out of the path of a runaway horse just in time to be trampled.

Cinderella story? That would be when Shear walks again, which could be in a couple of months, as he is lying today in a hospital with a multiple pelvic fractures, a fractured cheekbone, and gashes above his left eye and down his left arm.

"Could have been worse," Shear said, wincing beneath an oxygen tube during a Tuesday visit. ''Something could have happened to the little girl."

We interrupt the annual frenzy over the NCAA basketball tournament to write about a real buzzer beater. Nobody was cheering, the video has been locked up, and the only visible reward is a mug of flowers sitting next to a thin bed in a sterile room filled with pain and worry. But when a 5-foot, 110-pound giant of an athlete makes a play that saves a life, somebody should holler about it.

"I've already lived most of my life, the little girl has her entire life in front of her," Shear said. "There's no question I would do it again."

You can read the rest of Bill's column about John Shear's incredible bravery and selflessness by clicking here.

If you were to go to Google and search for John Shear's name, you would be rewarded with literally dozens of pages of articles, and from all over the world. Each and every one of them of them lauding what he did on that day. The story had gone viral.

And it wasn't just newspaper accounts, there were also videos, clips showing the actual event, and even a TV special about that fateful day at Santa Anita Racetrack.

Video clip from "John Shear: A Track Life" here.

Because of his heroism there were a considerable amount of people in Sierra Madre who wanted to make John Shear the Grand Marshal of that year's 4th of July parade. There were petitions, resident testimony at City Council meetings, and letters written demanding that such a thing happen. Unfortunately, local city politics intruded and John Shear was denied that honor.

But not before it had been given to him. The Chairman of that year's 4th of July Parade Committee, Matt Bosse, the partner of then City Councilman Joe Mosca, had originally given in to overwhelming popular demand and actually called to offer the Grand Marshal spot to John Shear. Only to renege on it afterwards.

Instead it was taken away and given to a retiring elementary school principal who was popular with a political faction that favored their interests. John Shear, on the other hand, had supported Joe Mosca's opponents in the previous City Council election. It was something that Bosse and Mosca, along with others of a similar and sadly narrow ideological stripe, could not find it in their hearts to forgive.

In an extraordinary act of pettiness, the Mosca supporters running the 4th of July Parade Committee that year somehow decided that nobody who had not supported their candidates could ever become a Grand Marshal. And, days after informing a convalescing John Shear that he had been chosen for this singular honor, Bosse called to say there had been some kind of a mix up. Rather John had been been chosen instead to be something they called a "Hometown Hero."

The thing was, there had never been a Sierra Madre 4th of July Parade Hometown Hero before. It was something that they had just made up, done in order to deny him the Grand Marshal slot that had been given only a few short days before. A kind of runner-up position, second to the person they wanted to reward for the political support she had given them in that recent election.

John Shear took this absurd slight in stride and accepted for a second time what they had offered him. He rode in that parade after the Grand Marshal, the retiring and now largely forgotten elementary school principal that the political faction running the parade committee favored.

Apparently in Sierra Madre heroes must be made to ride second to politically dutiful government functionaries.

There has been a "Hometown Hero" in every parade since. But this is in no way a longstanding tradition. Rather it was something brought about by a small and now irrelevant political faction in town, one that couldn't stand to see an internationally acclaimed hero not aligned with their interests honored in a way that did not properly celebrate them.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

51 comments:

  1. It has been 5 years since John Shear was named the first "Hometown Hero." How many other Hometown Heroes can you name?

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    1. Only two, Search and Rescue, and Kris Lowe.

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  2. can you please not mention Joe Mosca's name before breakfast?

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  3. To hell with that lady. They gave her a cafeteria, too. John Shear rules.

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    1. I think it was an auditorium.

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  4. Thank God those days are over.

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    1. Amen!
      We now have a city council and a planning commission we can trust. Before anyone objects, I'm not saying they are perfect, and that we don't have to be vigilant. But the majority of our council members and commissioners are honest people. That has not always been the case.

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    2. Nothing could be quite as bad as the Civility Party days. When you think that this city was actually in the hands of Joe Mosca, Nancy Walsh and Josh Moran, well, the mind boggles.

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    3. Disagree, 3:08. A council in the hands of Bart Doyle, or John Buchanan, with Rob Stockly? The worst days started a little earlier than the official Civility Party....

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    4. The Civility Party was when the Doyle spawned political gene pool dwindled to imbecility.

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  5. That was a very cruel thing Mosca did, but John just shrugged it off and invited John Crawford to ride in the parade car!Bosse had told John he was selected to be the grand marshall...John told Star News reporter Brenda Gazzar...who was writing an article about John. She called John and told him he had not been choosen.
    It was set up to humiliate John...who they didn't know personally, but knew me as a political volunteer for their opposition, former Mayor Mary Ann McGillivrey.
    Petty isn't the word for their dirty trick.
    John, Mike and Crawford enjoyed the parade anyway

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  6. It was a great pleasure to meet John Shear, What a remarkable human being, one we should aspire to be. He is my hero and will be for years to come.Happy Fourth of July, John! Thank you for the inspiration, God Bless and Keep you and Diane. Remarkable people!

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  7. John, you will always be our hometown hero. Happy 4thfor of July.

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  8. I disagree that Hometown Hero is somehow second to Grand Marshall, unless, of course, HH is awarded to someone or a group simply because they wear uniforms.

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    1. There was nothing second class about this year's hometown hero. Chris Lowe has earned all th kudos she got. Yes Moaca was a first class jerk, but I think this new committee got it right this year as well as the year the Alcorn's were grand Marshall and the Search and rescue team were hone town heroes,

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    2. It might be a good time to get rid of the Hometown Hero deal and have two Grand Marshals instead.

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  9. Sorry about this distraction of a topic changes, Red Alert - His latest gambit, expressed in Trailer Bill 707, would allow housing developments "by right." That means the projects could occur without disclosing environmental impacts about the development, and without going through certain local permitting. This is pure bull proposed by the all too stupid ones in Sacramento - a cities voters should be able to control it's own towns growth and not some pin-head politician on the take anyway.

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  10. The parade is great as usual. Thank you 4th of July Committee for making our 240th birthday special.

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  11. Mutual admiration society today.

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    1. I totally agree with you. The stupid police and city rules have spoiled the parade. Judy Chu has no business in our parade. She does not represent Sierra Madre except on paper. The parade is a source of money to the city because the staff time.

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    2. Doing away with the water fights between the kids and the fire dept at the end of the parade was a big loss. Killjoys ruin everything.

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  12. 10:43 am: Are you talking about the L.A. River front housing that Garcetti is trying to push through?

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  13. 1:39: but it was OK to have a car in the parade with a sign that said "Life's a bit*h, don't elect one" in a family parade? Chu has every right to be there, even if you don't care for her politics. At least she was classy, unlike the fool with the "bit*h" sign.

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    1. Anybody get a picture?

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    2. It was a red car.

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    3. Chu has done a lot for the veterans and is helping to get a clinic in the Pasadena area and is well liked by all political parties I'm guessing it was another person being vilified. Saying that, the sign was out of line.

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    4. Sounds like it must have been a Trump fan.

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    5. Not true about Judy Chu. And, there has always been politicians in the parade

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    6. Local pols like Chu and Antonovich try to hit as many 4th of July events as possible. They want each small city to think that they really care. Even when behind the scenes they're working hard for the 710 tunnel, cookie cutter high density housing and sober living dumps.

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    7. Portantino is one of the pols adamantly opposing the 710 Tunnel. He's also no fan of high density or sober houses. That's an Antonivich/Barger position because the County makes a lot of money on those damn things.

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  14. No, it was a low-slung sports car--I didn't recognize the make. It kinda looked like a kit car.

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    1. A Lamborghini? I saw on the line up list that there were going to be those indecently extravagant cars.
      No I'm not for Bernie, nor for any kind of that failed ideology Socialism, but there is a limit. If someone spends that much on a car, they damn well better donate an equal amount to an effective charity.

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    2. I take it faking a little green consciousness at the 4th of July parade is now no longer in style.

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  15. Satire can be very classy; being indicted on money charges as Judy' s hubby was; not so much.

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  16. Calling someone that word is neither classy or satirical, and it certainly had no place at the parade. One wonders how it was allowed in the first place.

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    1. Hah! When we wanted SMEAC to let a few people carry "Save One Carter" signs in the parade, we were told that we couldn't get so political.
      Maybe if we come up with some insults, it would have been approved.

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  17. Political Satire. With the upcoming Presidental election; no one was called a "name", it was fill in the blank. It could have read dump the Trump or Military fashion aside, rescue me from Benghazi.

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  18. 4:57 pm. I am for protecting anyone's private property rights. Not even the government/or sm town councils should take someones property rights from them.

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    1. Building a two story mcmansion next door to my house and blocking the sun would be taking my property rights from me.

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    2. I guess you really need to blame this on the loose building standards in your zone - something most people were quite comfortable with since it allowed them to do what they wanted on their property, with little regard to their neighbors. Now, that the McMansions have taken over large parts of the US, all of a sudden, some realize that it was not such a good idea to have no regulation whatsoever.
      At least you are allowed to also add another floor to your home to gain your sun back.

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    3. Nonsense and BS. The only thing "loose" is your commitment to honesty. You are not protecting rights, you're trampling on rights. People who have invested time and money in their communities have the right to say how things need to be. You just want to break all of that down so you can make money off of other peoples' hard work and sacrifices. You're a hypocrite and a phony.

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    4. Please stay with the subject and refrain from personal attacks. I just pointed out the obvious facts.
      If these communities had their say in the standards they wanted to have in their communities: why did they fail to put it in writing in their zoning laws?

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    5. We were discussing Sierra Madre. You have now changed the topic because you were getting slapped around.

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    6. No, I have not changed the topic: I asked why there are no zoning laws that prevented this from happening, in Sierra Madre or elsewhere. And the answer to this is because nobody wanted to have more regulation.

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    7. Oh. Then you are just ignorant. There is plenty of regulation in Sierra Madre. And a whole lot of new stuff in Arcadia. Bet you're loving that. What city are you talking about? Bell Gardens?

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    8. If nobody is allowed to built a two-story home next to yours because of tight regulations, you have nothing to complain about.

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  19. New area of law. Ownership of the Sun and the air space above ones house.

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    1. The hypocrisy of the so-called property rights crowd is that they are only concerned about new construction. If they get their way those who live in older homes are relegated to a second class status. Of course, none of this has anything to do with the lofty sounding "property rights." Rather it is the money to be made by uprooting established neighborhoods for the money to be made.

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