• Thu December 20 2001
  • Posted Dec 20, 2001
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Five New York City firefighters rode triumphantly up to Pasadena's Old Firehouse on Sunday, the last stop of a cross-country bicycle tour that began Nov. 11 at the site of the World Trade Center. A crowd of supporters greeted the men with cheers and shouts of ''F-D-N-Y! F-D-N-Y!'' Children clamored for autographs. The firefighters completed a 2,757-mile trek not to raise funds, but to express thanks to the nation for the support they say has overwhelmed them since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. ''It was beautiful, overwhelming, great support from the country,'' said Matt Hornung, 30, who was wearing bicycle shorts and a red plastic firefighter's hat. ''We intended on thanking people, and people came out and thanked us.'' Hornung and the other firefighters come from Engine Co. Nine/Ladder Co. 33, a station less than a mile from the World Trade Center that lost 10 men on Sept 11. Pictures of the fallen were displayed on a poster as the cycling firefighters listened to speeches from local officials and a rendition of ''America the Beautiful.'' ''To be able to meet them face to face and be part of it for a few hours, it's a dream come true,'' said Pasadena firefighter paramedic Jim Todd, 40. The firefighters pedaled down to Georgia from New York, then cut across the South to the West Coast, greeting well-wishers and sleeping in firehouses along the way. They rode about 100 miles a day, trailed by a support van driven by a sixth firefighter. ''It's been a very long trip, it's been a great trip, and I wish it would not end,'' said Dan ''Pappy'' Rowan, senior member of the firehouse and the bike tour's mastermind. The other riders were Hornung, Sal Princiotta, Drew Robb and Gerard Dolan. Ralph Perricelli followed in the van. The firefighters carried mementos of their fallen co-workers, a golf tee from one, a shoelace from another. ''Of course we think about them all the time, every day,'' Dolan said.

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