MISSION BAY PARKÂ â€” San Diego Police Department Capt. Al Guaderrama experienced an annual Pacific Beach tradition for the first time Wednesday afternoon, and he came away more than impressed.
Guaderrama, in his first year as captain of the departmentâ€™s Northern Division, was among about 150 people on hand for the 31st annual Police and Emergency Services Appreciation Night, an event that has been sponsored by the Pacific Beach Town Council since 1981.
â€œItâ€™s actually overwhelming,â€ Guaderrama said. â€œWhat the community does and how it works with the police department, itâ€™s unbelievable.â€
Officers, including Chief William Lansdowne, and firefighters mingled with members of the community and ate hamburgers, hot dogs and yellowtail fish during the two-plus-hour barbecue at the Crown Point Rotary Pavilion in Mission Bay Park. Guaderrama, who used to captain the departmentâ€™s Southern Division, said he has never experienced a similar event. He added that the appreciation meant a lot to him and his fellow officers.
â€œThey really do care about us and what we do in the community,â€ he said. â€œAnd itâ€™s vice versa.â€
The tradition started three decades ago when Pacific Beach Town Council secretary Mary Wilding and others decided to start an end-of-summer event to celebrate the completion of tourist season and thank those who helped make it a success, according to Pacific Beach Planning Group member Eve Anderson.
Wildingâ€™s son, Joe, is now the president of Pacific Beach Town Council.
â€œItâ€™s just a good way to say thanks to the cops,â€ Joe Wilding said. â€œIt can be a thankless job sometimes.â€