HomeCity Council Discusses Alternative Fourth of July Plans

City Council Discusses Alternative Fourth of July Plans

Under City Council direction, the city’s Community Services Department will explore alternative options for a pandemic-centric Fourth of July celebration in lieu of the traditional parade and celebration in Lacy Park.
The result may be a virtual adaptation of the festivities, as was initially presented as an option at last week’s City Council meeting, but it could also include a series of interactive community activities prompted by the city, as was suggested by Councilwoman Susan Jakubowski. Her inspiration for this idea, Jakubowski explained, was observing the pandemic phenomenon of children chalking cartoonish rainbows on sidewalks and families adorning their homes with messages of hopeful solidarity.
“It’s just a joy to see other peoples’ joy when we can’t be with one-another,” Jakubowski said last Wednesday.
As fleshed out by the rest of the City Council, city employees could buy and distribute Fourth of July-specific materials for San Marino’s families to decorate their homes and yards, which could be part of a live video tour during the holiday. Perhaps the city could host a raffle to award gift cards for locally owned businesses where recipients could buy their own adornments. First responders might judge competing yards in a friendly contest.
“I just think people will have more reason to walk around the community,” Jakubowski said. “Hopefully it will bring some delight for children and adults alike.”
Because the Community Services Department already has a budget for the Fourth of July festivities, there was no need for a formal direction or appropriation last week. The discussion was prompted by the cancelation of the traditional celebration, which has families gather for a day at Lacy Park including live music and games for children before settling down for a fireworks show.
“This is a horrible decision to make,” said Councilman Steve Talt. “It breaks my heart having grown up, wandering into the park and watching the fireworks display. However, given what the orders are, we can’t do it, and I’ve fully accepted we can’t do it because the county and state wouldn’t let us do it.”
Josette Espinosa, interim Community Services director, had proposed crafting a virtual alternative to the celebration and also gave the City Council the option to have a patriotic drone display fly over the city for residents to enjoy.
That endeavor would have 100 flying drones take off from the Huntington Library and fly in a remote-controlled and choreographed presentation for around 15 minutes that day, to the tune of $39,640. However, regulations forbid the drone from achieving a meaningful altitude, which means that residents in even San Marino’s small footprint would likely have a difficult time seeing the display through tree coverage if they live outside of the immediate launch area.
“There are a lot of trees and there are a lot of obstacles that could cause some people to not to be able to see as clearly as we had hoped,” Espinosa explained, “so many of them would probably start leaning toward walking out their front door, keeping walking and walking and walking until they got the view that they were hoping to get, which could lead to not doing social distancing and getting into the medians and things like that.”
Indeed, the staff report reflected that there may not even be enough time to develop the logistics of such a performance, much less get a worthwhile return-on-investment from it. The use of high-altitude fireworks also was shot down last week, in favor of the virtual presentation.
“If we can’t do what we’ve been traditionally able to do, let’s just do an entirely different direction and not cheapen it with drones and high altitude when we can’t all be there,” Talt said.
Depending on what shakes out for the Fourth of July this year, it could even join the parade and Lacy Park celebration as part of the San Marino tradition.
“I think there’s some interesting community that could be built through this and it might become a new tradition that adds onto the traditional parade and fireworks that we have when we get through all of this,” Vice Mayor Ken Ude said.

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