HomeCity NewsSan Marino Finds a Way to Celebrate July 4

San Marino Finds a Way to Celebrate July 4

The city is rarin’ to go with its Fourth of July decoration tool kits, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis to San Marino families to help celebrate Independence Day even without the usual festivities.
The City Council last week was happy about an update from Community Services Director Josette Espinosa, who, with the holiday looming, was able to put together the plan after officials faced the reality in May that the customary celebration and fireworks at Lacy Park did not jibe with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Residents who partake in the decorative celebration will be eligible for a contest judged by City Council members on the holiday.
“This is the fun stuff that we get to do in recreation, so I’m happy to be here,” Espinosa told the City Council.
The kits include five American flags, sidewalk chalk (red, white and blue), a patriotic pennant banner, a roll of patriotic crepe paper and a yard sign. The city has prepared around 300 of the kits, and residents should have received a postcard in the mail by now detailing how to pick up a kit. There will be a chalk art contest for children ages 4-13 for the holiday. In anticipation of this contest, Espinosa noted that she had obtained extra chalk.
“We kind of anticipated that,” she said. “The mayor knows that I did that because she asked me to do that.”
Children participating in the contest are asked to draw their patriotic artwork on the sidewalk and post a photo on either Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #ChalkItUpSanMarino. Winners will be determined among 4-5-year-olds, 6-7-year-olds, 8-9-year-olds and 10-13-year-olds.
For the home decorating contests, there will be winners in four categories: most creative, most patriotic, judges’ choice and honorable mention. The top three victors of each category will receive gift cards to San Marino restaurants.
Though the Fourth of July normally means a parade, a daylong celebration in Lacy Park with music and games and a beautiful fireworks display above the park, restrictions on large public gatherings because of the pandemic meant pulling the plug for this year. Costs for this version of the celebration rang in at $12,598.
“I think it will be a great program for our families and community members,” Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey said. “It will be nice to see houses decorated and have that going on when we don’t have the normal gathering that we enjoy.”
Councilman Steve Talt — who added that this effort provided “a silver lining in a very gray cloud” — found himself wondering if he, too, should not get one of these decoration kits.
“Is there a bottle of Belvedere in those bags, too?” he asked Espinosa in a moment of levity; she quipped there would be a miniature bottle of the vodka. (There won’t, of course.) “Well, then 300 might not be enough,” Talt said, continuing the joke.
In other business, Shepherd Romey started the meeting by acknowledging the nationwide protests and demonstrations affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, following the May death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. In that incident, one of the officers was recorded on video pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, while onlookers demanded the officer step away and Floyd said “I can’t breathe” before he died.
“Seeing the video of George Floyd’s murder galvanized Americans to condemn violence and demand equal justice. I believe it would be another injustice for us to turn away from the truth that we all witnessed and do nothing,” the mayor said, adding that she has received a number of emails from residents on the matter. “In the past, it’s been too easy to remain silent and ignore injustices against one person and how it affects us all and how it affects our community. At this moment, there is an added burden for those in positions of authority to listen, recognize what is existing and happening in all places — even here — and then do the tough work of finding the right path to go forward.”
Shepherd Romey noted that the ongoing national moment was uniquely uniting Americans of all stripes, and added praise for the San Marino Police Department’s light touch during a Black Lives Matter march through town the prior weekend.
“Now it’s up to us to continue their great work and review the city’s policies and practices to better reflect the community that we live in,” she said. “I believe there are improvements that can be made that will lead us out of the past so we can move forward into a future that’s more just for all in San Marino. Racism didn’t just start now, but it’s the time to acknowledge it and ask what we can do to change, so that we emerge from these difficult times stronger together than we have ever been.”


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