• First responders honored at parade in Lawrence for work during gas explosions

    By: Chris Flanagan

    Updated:

    It was a special day in Lawrence, with plenty of thanks given out as the city held its annual St. Patrick's Day parade.

    First responders were honored in a big way at the vent, with those in attendance showing their appreciation for their hard work during last fall's gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley.

    Those first responders, including firefighters, police officers and EMTs, were chosen to serve as grand marshals for the parade after helping so many residents impacted by the explosions and fires in September.

    >>MORE: Timeline of events during Merrimack Valley gas explosions

    "People mostly see us on their worst day," Lawrence Fire Chief Brian Moriarity said. "Today is a day of celebration, so we get to see the same people and have a good time."

    The explosions in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover killed one person, injured about two dozen, damaged more than 100 structures and left thousands without heat and hot water for weeks.

    >>RELATED: MERRIMACK VALLEY GAS EXPLOSIONS: 18-year-old killed in Lawrence

    "I mean those days in September, in our darkest hours and your greatest needs, they were there," Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said. "First and foremost, some of them were there as their houses burned, their families were unsure about their safety, so I think we owe them a debt of gratitude and we're gonna be doing for a while."

    Lawrence's parade was moved to not interfere with Boston's parade last weekend, leaving the chance for everyone to honor those who put in the hard work in the fall.

    "If it hadn't been for everybody to help us, we wouldn't have gotten through that occassion as well as we did," Moriarity said. "Now is a chance for us in the community to say, 'Hey, thank you,' and we're honored, humbled."

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