Fourth of July celebrations in Santa Clarita will look a little different this year as developments with the coronavirus pandemic continue, despite stay-at-home restrictions easing, City Council members discussed Tuesday.
Independence Day festivities, such as the annual Fourth of July parade that gathers about 20,000 people in Old Town Newhall each summer and, later that night, a fireworks show at the Westfield Valencia Town Center that also draws a crowd, might turn virtual this year due to safety measures brought forth by the COVID-19 crisis.
“I think I certainly concur with our inability to do a Fourth of July parade this year. I think it’s just directly contrary to large gatherings, and I don’t think there’s any way to socially distance or manage a crowd of that size for the parade, unfortunately,” City Manager Ken Striplin said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
He referred to suggestions made by Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who brainstormed ideas on how to preserve celebrations this year in a safe manner.
“Let us not lose this year for patriotism,” she said, suggesting virtual competitions among neighborhoods with the most patriotically decorated blocks or best mini floats. Photo submissions would be sent to the city or local media.
On the topic of crowds and large gatherings still prohibited countywide, council members also discussed the uncertainty around the yearly fireworks show, which tends to see thousands of people gather among each other at the mall parking lot or sidewalks within the Town Center.
Still, the concern is that, if canceled, more residents might be tempted to ignite fireworks at home, according to Mayor Cameron Smyth.
“The home fireworks shows are always a major concern here in Santa Clarita, and if we can look into at least keeping the fireworks show, that might reduce the temptation for further doing the home shows, and that’s still something that we can celebrate safely within the guidelines,” he said.
Council members, in conversation with Striplin, suggested possibly livestreaming the show and/or encouraging residents to watch from their yards and vehicles.
Striplin said the city would work on a plan within “the next week or two.”