Nearly 30 Burbank and Glendale police staffers traversed city streets Wednesday in honor of more than a thousand athletes competing in this weekend’s Special Olympics Southern California Summer Games.
Groups from both police departments jogged preset routes throughout the cities, passing on a torch that was headed to the 41st Summer Games on Saturday in Long Beach.
About 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Burbank officers handed the torch to Glendale resident Ronnie Moreno, 49, at Alameda Avenue and Glenoaks Boulevard to start his leg of the run.
While Moreno, who’s a client at the Glendale Assn. for the Retarded, won’t be participating in the Games, he was honored to be selected as Glendale police’s anchor for the run.
“I like people watching me and waving at me,” Moreno said. “I have been excited about this all week.”
More than 350 police agencies and 4,000 officers participated in the torch run to help kick off the start of the summer games, said Richard Hernandez, vice president of the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
Three torches are carried for the summer games. One torch started off in San Luis Obispo, the second began in Wilmington and the third in San Diego, he said.
Glendale police began planning for the torch run several weeks ago, Officer Sue Shine said. But the Police Department has hosted fundraisers, including Tip-A-Cop, throughout the year for the nonprofit Olympic organization, she said.
Glendale has raised about $1,900 for the Tri-Valley Special Olympics, which is the local chapter, Shine said.
Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse secured two historic Olympic torches in addition to the Special Olympics torch for the run, Sgt. Darin Ryburn said.
One torch was from the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and the other from the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
Being able to run with the Berlin Olympics torch was a rare treat since most were destroyed in World War II, Ryburn said.
The grandfather of Burbank interim Financial Services Director Bill Yeomans brought the torch to the United States from Berlin, he said. His grandfather was a member of the Olympics organizing committee and kept the only two torches that weren’t destroyed in World War II, Ryburn added.
One of the torches was donated to a museum in Switzerland; the other stayed with Yeoman’s grandfather, he said.
Burbank officers carried the torch for their 4-mile leg of the run.
Los Angeles police officers handed a similar torch to Burbank officers just after 12:30 p.m at Riverside Drive and Clybourn Avenue.
Burbank officers headed east on Riverside Drive to Olive Avenue, then onto First Street to Orange Grove.
Glendale officers then ended their leg back in Los Angeles’ jurisdiction at Colorado Street and the Glendale (2) Freeway overpass.