Where is the “A”?

The Azusa “A” has once again gone missing. This time it was not due to a fire burning it down, and many people are asking where it went.

Jan. 16-17, firefighters battled a wildfire burning in the San Gabriel Mountains that destroyed 1,863 acres after burning down homes, injuring three people and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate. The Colby fire did tremendous damage to Azusa and its surrounding cities.

The original “A” vanished in the Colby fire on Jan. 17. Soon afterward, the “A” was replaced by the number “1” owing to a group of students wishing to remain anonymous. The numeral was then replaced by the letter “A” once again until it recently disappeared.

It has been a very well-known tradition for locals and APU students to hike the Garcia Trail and reach the “A,” situated in the Foothill Mountains and visible from campus.

Los Angeles County Fire and Forest Service officials declared the hillside off-limits, including Garcia Trail. Since this occurred, no one is permitted to attempt to hike the trail because of the dangers, including erosion that occurred after the fire. Prior to the January blaze, plans for a permanent “A” had been in the making by city officials.

City officials tried to get hold of the deed of the land where the “A” was to make it a permanent part of Azusa in August 2011 and October 2012, but the city has not yet obtained title to the property, which also includes some parts of Garcia Trail.

“The man who owns the land that surrounds the areas where the ‘A’ is located owns a lucrative avocado farm and does not want anyone stealing his avocados,” Azusa Mayor Joseph Romero Rocha said.

Although the “A” is not a city instilled landmark, the Azusa City Council has made plans to keep it a part of the city.

“Two thousand dollars have been put aside by the City Council to buy a heavy-duty tarp to make the ‘A’ more permanent,” Rocha said.

There are many secret groups around Azusa that have gone up either through the farm or other paths to replace or fix the “A,” but since the letter disappeared, no one has attempted to put it up again.

“In the 69 years I have lived here, the ‘A’ has always been located where it was,” Rocha said. “The local high-school varsity football team used to go up there and replace the ‘A’ when needed, until one time they went up with some pickup trucks and the brakes failed and one of the trucks rolled over, and even though fortunately no one was injured, the school district prohibited anyone from going up the ‘A.’ A few months ago a ‘G’ also appeared for a very brief time, and then it mysteriously disappeared a few days later.”

In order to enter the trail leading to the “A,” locals and hikers have had to cross the Rosedale community at the path’s entrance.

“Some of us are attempting to have the trail closed permanently because we don’t like all the traffic and all the people in our neighborhood,” said a member of the Rosedale community who asked to remain anonymous.

As for now, no one is sure where the “A” went or who took it down. Rumors have been circulating as to whether the disappearance is temporary or permanent.

“I do not know what happened to the ‘A,’ but in the future we do wish to make it a permanent part of the city of Azusa,” Rocha said.