Published in the November 1-14, 2017 issue of Gilroy Life

Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee and medical doctor Faith Protsman at the first responders barbecue.

Residents of Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy spent a few fun hours with the first-responders of the region at St. Louise Regional Hospital Saturday, Oct. 14 at a thank-you barbecue put on by the hospital staff.

“Last year they did the first barbecue to thank first responders and also to bring the community together,” Dawn Bussey, marketing and communications director for the hospital, told us. It was such a great success they decided to do it again this year.

The hospital had considered rescheduling the event because so many of the Cal Fire firefighters were deployed to the North Bay region helping the families in the Santa Rose area facing one of the most devastating fires in Northern California’s history. But they talked to the local station houses and they said they would like to have it continue with the free barbecue. Children got to meet police officers and firefighters and get their photos taken. They also got the chance to get up close to the SWAT and tanker truck vehicles.

“It’s just nice for the community to be able to thank the first responders and appreciate them,” Bussey said.

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The California Retired Teachers Association Uvas Valley, Division 66 is celebrating retired teachers week Nov. 5 to 11 with a host of events.

Sunday Nov. 5 is be-thankful-to-teachers day. They urge everyone to thank a teacher. Monday at 6 p.m., Division 66 will present a proclamation to the city council at its regularly scheduled meeting. The next day they will serve free pizza to the first 20 retired teachers who show up to Mountain Mike’s Pizza in Morgan Hill from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, they urge everyone to volunteer at a local school. Thursday, the pizza event will be held at Mountain Mike’s Pizza in Gilroy. Friday, they urge everyone to volunteer in some capacity in their local community, and finally, they urge us all to honor our veterans Saturday, Nov. 11. They all sound like great ideas.

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Help create great memories for local kids and families by making the holidays a little brighter. In most cases a tree is something that might get overlooked when helping families during the holidays. However, a tree can fill a house with all the sights and smells of the holidays, and last for weeks.

To that end, One Giving Tree has a goal of 150 “Christmas Tree Kits” that will be delivered to local children, families and individuals in need here in our community. They are throwing a party from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Old City Hall Restaurant. It will include raffles, wine, appetizers, music and more, all for a $25 donation. The donation will provide one complete tree kit that will include a tree, biodegradable tree stand, and ornaments.

RSVP to mike@insurology.com or (408) 857-4795 or debbi@fortinowinery.com or (408) 857-4795.

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Russ Pingrey, with trophy, next to his winning pumpkin, and host Doug Rodriguez.

Russ Pingrey’s 2,000-pound pumpkin was named the 2017 Grand Champion at the 27th Annual Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off at Uesugi Farms. At $7 per pound, his pumpkin earned him $14,000. Pingrey had originally planned to enter the Half Moon Bay competition a week earlier, but was delayed due to the wildfires near his Santa Rosa home. He awoke the morning of Oct. 9 with the Tubbs Fire about half a mile away. He packed his family and evacuated, but firefighters held the line and he was able to return. However, uncertain the fire could threaten his home again, he was going to skip the San Martin contest as well. But after some urging from his wife, he loaded up his giant pumpkin — now named “Fireball” — and headed south. Congratulations on winning, Russ. And glad to hear all is well with your home.