SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The town where Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped 18 years ago celebrated her astounding reappearance with a parade Sunday while she remained secluded with her family in Northern California.
Dugard’s former classmates and teachers were among those who took part in the one-mile march along South Lake Tahoe’s main drag to celebrate her safe return. She was snatched from a school bus stop there in 1991 at the age of 11.
“We just want her to know that we love her and support her,” said Jillian Broadfoot, 30, who attended Meyers Elementary School with Dugard. “I think Tahoe lost its innocence with the kidnapping, and hopefully her return restores a little faith here.”
South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Terry Daniels estimated 2,000 people took part in the parade and another 500 people joined them at a rally afterward. Most wore pink or held pink balloons in recognition of Dugard’s favorite color. The parade route was lined by pink ribbons on trees.
Meghan Dorris, 28, of Stateline, Calif., was among Dugard’s classmates who started a pink ribbon campaign when she was abducted to show their hope for her safe return.
“It really haunted us over the years, and I’m just excited to get her back,” Dorris said. “Putting myself in her place, I can’t imagine what she went through. I wish her the best in the healing process and hope she can lead a normal life.”
Sunday’s parade followed the reverse route of a march held on the 10th anniversary of Dugard’s abduction. Missing person posters that volunteers handed out in the days after she disappeared in 1991 were stacked near the start and updated with large black circles with slashes drawn through them.
Dugard had been living in the South Lake Tahoe area with her mother, stepfather and infant sister for less than a year when she was snatched off the street.
Phillip Garrido, 58, and his wife, 54-year-old Nancy Garrido, have pleaded not guilty to 29 counts of kidnapping, rape and false imprisonment in Dugard’s disappearance.