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Our View: Hark! Season of pigskin, parade, pride in our youth

Our View
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That little chill in the air the last few days means the holidays are just around the corner. And what a fun, festive and exciting weekend ahead for Auburn fans and families alike. The Placer Hillmen continue their march toward a section championship tonight with a third home playoff game. Dress warmly in your green and gold, get there early and cheer loud and long after every successful Hillmen play. To get you in the spirit, we’ve included a cheer poster in today’s Journal. Pull it out, mount it to some poster board if you like, and raise it proudly for your hometown team. Leave no doubt! On Saturday, pack up the family and stake out your spot to watch the annual Festival of Lights Parade, presented by the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. An Auburn tradition, the parade winds through Downtown, through the Streetscape project and finishes at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. “The Light in a Child’s Eyes” is the theme for this year’s parade, and that’s exactly what kids will see in the dozens of lighted floats, vehicles and holiday revelers. Parade organizers have reversed the route, providing an easier, downhill run for parade participants, and giving Santa a speedier start on his busy schedule. The highlight of the parade should be the 200-plus firefighters who will serve as grand marshals. More than three months after the devastating 49 Fire, Auburn still owes a debt of gratitude to those who fought that blaze — and put their lives on the line every day. While we’re handing out props, take a moment at the parade to thank the many volunteers who help stage, manage and police the lighted floats and entries. Festival of Lights is a true community event, and it wouldn’t happen without their help. Between 10,000 and 14.000 attend the parade, so plan your evening well. When Santa waves and goes by, signaling the parade’s conclusion, spend a few extra minutes and visit some of the Downtown and Old Town stores, brimming with holiday cheer. Auburn is open for your business. Salute the Lego Guards Firefighters are the toast of this year’s holiday parade, but it’s a group of Auburn-area students we praise for their fire prevention efforts. The Meadow Vista Lego Guards, a team of science-minded youth who won an international competition in May, is seeing their computerized forest fire warning project come to fruition. Known as Forest Guard, the project uses a system of cameras and computer screensavers to survey forest areas for smoke and fire outbreaks. Sony and the University of Nevada engineers are testing a system in the Tahoe National Forest this winter. More exciting is that Sony has taken an “open source” approach, releasing its design and software to other fire prevention agencies to apply and improve. With large-scale wildland fires endangering more homes and forests each year, and costing California millions in suppression costs annually, this project could save countless lives and money for generations to come. Team members also take a science-first approach, which is sure to pay dividends as they pursue their education and research dreams. “What you learn is more important than what you win,” said Lego Guards coach Heidi Buck. “Here it’s actually happening and the ideas are being let out into the world.” Wisdom we could all learn from.