East Bay first responders put on ‘flash mob’ parade to salute health care workers

A noisy, upbeat convoy of East Bay fire trucks, police cruisers and more, with many vintage rides, took in five local hospitals.

On Thursday, Oakland’s fire and police departments organized a “flash mob” parade that saw East Bay first responders salute health care providers at five local hospitals with a noisy, upbeat convoy.

The event, which was heard if not seen by many locals — not least as many of the emergency vehicles in the convoy deployed their sirens — started at Highland Hospital around noon, and took in Kaiser Permanente, Summit and UCSF Benioff Children’s in Oakland, as well as Alta Bates in Berkeley.

“The event allowed first responders from throughout the East Bay to acknowledge the amazing work the doctors, nurses, administrative staff, custodial staff and more have been doing over the past two months battling COVID-19,” Berkeley Fire Department Assistant Chief Keith May told Berkeleyside.

All five hospitals were excited to have the acknowledgment from their public safety partners, according to May, who said they hoped it would offer a morale boost for staff. And May added that the timing was fortuitous as it happens to be National Nurses Week (National Nurses Day was Wednesday).


The first responder caravan, which was slated to involve over 80 vehicles, included antique and specialty vehicles such as parade rigs, low riders and vintage police cars, as well as motorcycles and helicopters. (Videos by Pete Rosos.)

First responder convoy at Highland Hospital. Photo: Pete Rosos
A vintage OPD engine was part of the first responder convoy at Highland Hospital. Photo: Pete Rosos
A thank you message in first responder convoy at Highland Hospital. Photo: Pete Rosos
First responder convoy at Highland Hospital. Photo: Pete Rosos
Vintage cars including low riders were part of the first responder parade. Photo: Pete Rosos
The convoy included a pink OPD cruiser. Photo: Pete Rosos
BFD was part of several first responder agencies to take part in the salute to health workers. Photo: Pete Rosos
A vintage OPD engine arrives at Highland Hospital as part of the convoy. Photo: Pete Rosos
Workers Alta Bates watch as a vintage ambulance cruises past as part of the salute to health care workers. Photo: Pete Rosos
Waiting for the parade at Alta Bates. Photo: Pete Rosos
Messages of thanks from health care workers to their public safety partners. Photo: Pete Rosos
People applaud as the parade goes by. Photo: Pete Rosos
People applaud as the parade goes by. Photo: Coco Rosos
People applaud as the parade goes by. Photo: Coco Rosos
Health care workers thank their first responder partners at Alta Bates. Photo: Coco Rosos
Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside. Email: tracey@citysidejournalism.org.