Rancho Cordova's largest annual celebration is the Fourth of July when volunteers absolutely transform Hagan Park into our own patriotic wonderland. Those who actually work on this project don't think of it as a party as much as a major miracle.
Think about it. One day you are meandering through Hagan Park alone with your dog and a couple of days later you are there with thousands of people enjoying carnival rides, fireworks, great food and more. A couple days later it disappears just as fast. How do they do it?
They do it with a lot of imagination. And hard-working volunteers.
But there are some parts of this adventure that visitors never see. And one of them is our dedicated team of volunteers we used to call "Night Patrol."
These are volunteers who show up at around 10 p.m., are handed the keys to golf carts and other secret places, and keep an eye on the park and its contents all night long. It's an invisible, but critical contribution. And it begins four days before the Fourth, continues through the two-day celebration, and for a couple more nights until all equipment and valuables are packed away safely for another year.
While Night Patrol has always worked extremely well, it soared to new heights under the leadership of our Volunteer of the Year, Karen Teague.
Karen is no stranger to Rancho Cordova, having lived here forever. She has always picked out the hardest jobs for herself, and has practically made a career out of picking up litter, cruising neighborhoods in the middle of the night to report burned out street lights and much more.
But when we asked Karen if she would take on Night Patrol and see what she could do with it, even we were surprised by the results.
Her first order of business was to rename her team the "Night Hawks," and the Hawks went on be become the best organized, most motivated group of volunteers we have ever seen.
Karen would spend her days communicating with her Hawks via email to keep them up to speed with developments in the Fourth of July operational schedule, alerts to suspicious activity, and new ways to sharpen their skills.
She would also cook up hearty night time meals to be shared by the crews, upgrading the operation from coffee and donuts to homemade dishes that could win her a guest shot on the Food Network.
She analyzed, visualized, maximized, utilized - you get the idea - everything about this operation and then wrote a detailed manual on how to do it without her.
Thanks to Karen and the Hawks, the Fourth of July celebration last year was safe, with no loss to vandalism or late night marauders. The Hawks ruled.
Karen, your nomination was submitted by those who worked shoulder to shoulder with you producing Rancho Cordova's greatest annual event. They included the day crew, the night crews and the office crew who grew to respect you, marvel at your work ethic and are proud to call you a friend.
Rancho Cordova is lucky to have you. Nobody is more deserving than you to bear the title: All American Fourth of July Volunteer.