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Professionals Autobody to Lead Spirit Ride through Altoona, Pa.

Professionals Autobody announced it will lead the Spirit Ride, which honors fallen first responders, through Altoona, Pa., on Oct. 26, 2018.

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Professionals Autobody announced it will lead the Spirit Ride, which honors fallen first responders, through Altoona, Pa., on Oct. 26, 2018.

The Spirit Ride ceremonies feature the colorful, custom-built Spirit casket, twirling rain sticks, color guards, Taps buglers, bagpipers and original folk songs performed live in tribute to first responders who have been struck down while working on the roadway. Present are dozens, sometimes hundreds, of professionals from the police, fire, EMS and towing services.

The ceremonial casket, named Spirit, is eight feet long and painted by Cecil Burrowes, an artist famous for his intricate designs air-brushed on tow trucks. The scenes depicted on the casket represent all first responders and the perils they face on the highways.

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The color scheme of the casket represents patriotism and tragedy. On one end are red and white stripes and faded stars. On the other end are red, white and blue bars: red symbolizing the blood sacrificed, white for the spirit of the fallen and blue for the loss of the family.

The ceremony includes a blessing recited by all present and the singing of “Bless the Spirit Riders,” an original song composed as an anthem for the Spirit Ride.

The small ceremony for this event will be held Oct. 26 at 10 a.m. at the Professionals Auto Body Duncansville location.

Hundreds of men and women of towing, police, fire and emergency medical services are maimed, dismembered, paralyzed and killed annually. Sixty percent of these casualties are tow truck operators. The mission of the Spirit Ride is to promote awareness of the Slow Down, Move Over law. According to the Federal Highway Commission, 70 percent of the motoring public is unaware of the law, while others simply ignore it.

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