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Yosemite National Park kicked-off its celebration of the park's 125th Anniversary with a ceremony at Yosemite Falls today. The theme of the event was Youth of Today: Park Stewards of Tomorrow. Approximately 500 people attended the event, 300 of whom were students from the Yosemite region and Sacramento. The guest of honor was Gabriel Lavan-Ying, better known as "Ranger Gabriel." Ranger Gabriel was named an Honorary Yosemite National Park Ranger last June through a visit arranged by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Ranger Gabriel addressed the crowd and was named Honorary Chairman of the park's 125th Anniversary Celebration by park Superintendent Don Neubacher.
"The focus of today’s celebration and next year's Centennial of the National Park Service is on young people. The students of today will be the park stewards of tomorrow and we are making every effort to connect young people to national parks, an integral part of America's heritage," stated park Superintendent Don Neubacher. "We are so pleased that Ranger Gabriel was here to help us kick off the Anniversary. He is truly an inspiration to us all, and we're honored that he agreed to serve as the Honorary Chairman of the year-long Anniversary celebration."
The event also featured five students, from third grade through university, reading letters to the future stewards of Yosemite National Park. Other highlights included the Yosemite Mounted Patrol and the serving of commemorative cakes. After the brief ceremony, all of the students in attendance participated in educational activities related to Yosemite National Park and the importance of its preservation.
Yosemite National Park would like to thank NatureBridge, Delaware North at Yosemite, Yosemite Conservancy and the Ansel Adams Gallery for their generous support of the event.
Editor’s Notes: On October 1, 2015, the park will commemorate the 125th anniversary of the establishment of Yosemite National Park. President Benjamin Harrison signed the legislation, thereby creating the nation’s third National Park. The establishment of Yosemite National Park preserved over 1,500 square miles of land including Tuolumne Meadows, the park’s high country, Hetch Hetchy and lands surrounding Yosemite Valley.
Ranger Gabriel visited the park through the Make--A-Wish Foundation, which granted Ranger Gabriel's wish to be a Yosemite National Park Ranger! Gabriel suffers from a life-threatening illness, but keeps an amazingly strong attitude, both physically and mentally. During Gabriel’s visit to the park he performed many duties that are done on a daily basis by Yosemite Park Rangers, including putting out a fire, conducting a search and rescue operation, going on a nature walk, etc... Ranger Gabriel is actively raising money for other kids to realize their wish, just like he did. So far, "Team Ranger Gabriel" has raised over $14,000, which will pay for two kids to make their wish a reality. Ranger Gabriel and his family just participated in the Orlando, Florida “Walk for Wishes.”