GRAND LAKE, Colo. — Twenty-one tolls of a bell in Grand Lake's Town Square Park commemorated Oct. 21, 2020 — a day that will live forever in the small mountain town's history.
One year after the East Troublesome Fire forced evacuations of the entire town, the community is still rebuilding.
"There are a lot of emotions in this. There are people who lost everything. People who were really, really devastated by this," said Dan Mayer, the Grand Lake fire marshal. "People feel emotion different ways, and this is bringing the community together to comfort those impacted and get them moving forward."
In a small ceremony on Thursday, Grand Lake's fire chief spoke about the resiliency of the town and the acts of kindness that sewed the community back together after the fire ripped through.
"You held each other up. You dedicated your time and sweat to each other. You fueled that engine that made positive change in each other's lives," Grand Lake Fire Chief Seth St. Germain said in a speech to residents. "The selfless acts, sacrifices and the push to carry on is the highest level of bravery I have ever observed."
Organizers of the brief event wanted to channel the pains and achievements of the town one year later.
"This loss has impacted so many people on so many different levels. But this is our opportunity to come together as a community to reflect," said Emily Hagen, the executive director of the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce. "This is our time to dream for the future. This is our time to be proud of what we've walked through for the past year and to kind of renew our commitment to moving forward as well."