SAN DIEGO — Marching down Tierrasanta Boulevard at 10 a.m. on Saturday, the Patriot's Day Parade returns after two years of cancellations due to the pandemic.
Held on Armed Forces Day to honor the military community, the Tierrasanta Kiwanis Club has 80 parade participants from high school bands and little league teams to local businesses and Girl Scout troops.
“It’s really a get together and expanding your knowledge of people to know each other and their families, some people don’t even know their next-door neighbor, so this brings the community together," said Kiwanis Club Hani Shatila.
In the parade’s 34 years, Shatila has helped select the parade Grand Marshall. This year, the group chose Barbara Cummings.
"I was in total shock, I literally just went like ahhhh, it was just like unbelievable,” said Cummings, a member of “Helping Empower Community Refugees.”
CBS8 showed Barbara Cummings' Tierrasanta home following the Fall of Kabul last August, where she stocked it with donations of toiletries, clothing and shoes to give to Afghan refugees. Each bedroom, the living room, garage and backyard are filled to the brim with home supplies.
"I was stunned. I said to myself, this is her home, but where does she sleep?" said Shatila, who is a recently retired veterinarian.
Now, several months later, Cummings says basically nothing has changed except that she has more.
“I actually have a shoe shed now, and I have 58 bins of shoes in the shoe shed,” said Cummings.
Barbara doesn't want to lead the Patriot's Day Parade alone, she asked an Afghan refugee she's helped to ride with her.
"If I can do something for her, I will be very happy because she helped not only me, but everyone, all the refugees in El Cajon,” said Sayed Sultani, who fled Afghanistan in August with his wife and two young daughters.
Before coming to America, Sultani did the flight schedules as a Kabul airport executive, who also worked for the U.S. Embassy.
But now, Sultani works at 7-Eleven in El Cajon since he has not successfully found gainful employment as a highly educated refugee and non-U.S. citizen.
Sultani’s family was brought to Fort Lee, Virginia before they lived in a hotel in Old Town, where they met Cummings, who showed up last year with a box of clothing and food.
“I lost a lot of documents and everything. You had to run and get away, so that was not a good situation, and when I started here, I had nothing. That is difficult, but thank you to Barbara,” said Sultani, whose wife is now pregnant.
Both Cummings and Sultani will ride in the first parade car starting at Canyon Hills High School on Santo Road before the route brings them down Tierrasanta Blvd. ending on Baroque Lane in the Legacy Church parking lot.
"It’s our full TierraFest weekend, and we got them the convertibles, I have their nametags on the car so everyone will know who they are,” Shatila said.
Cummings hopes her title as Grand Marshall will bring awareness to the growing needs of the refugee community.
"Just because the Afghan refugees are not in the news anymore, they are hurting, and they need us,” Cummings said.