PARADISE -- For the first time since the deadly and destructive Camp Fire, the Paradise High School Bobcats played underneath Friday night lights on their home field.
The cliche thing to say is that this football game gives the Paradise community a chance at normalcy once again, but that’s not true. Friday night wasn't about being just normal -- it is far better than normal.
Paradise High School Athletic Director Anne Stearns says the crowd at the game against Williams was around 5,000 -- more than double the typical home game attendance.
And it wasn't just those who remained after the Camp Fire who came to the game. Stearns says people who have been displaced across the country returned for this special occasion.
"Our community has been lost, so our community is all over the United States," Stearns said. "So for one night, especially today, we can all be together."
The Camp Fire swept through Paradise in November, quickly becoming the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history.
Like so many others in attendance who had their homes destroyed in the fire, Christy Voigt and her friends now live together in trailers that they call "The Compound."
“But when you’re here and you are on campus or at a football game, you don’t really feel any different, so it feels like it did last year so it’s pretty cool," Voigt, who is also a Paradise High School teacher, told FOX40.
For those who remained after the fire and for those who left, a football game at Paradise High will always feel like home.
"They know that this is something they can always lean on," Stearns said.
Paradise won 42-0.