Santa Clarita officials announced Tuesday this year’s city-run fireworks show has been canceled to comply with Los Angeles County’s latest modified order prohibiting pyrotechnics displays through the Fourth of July weekend, despite seeking an exception.
The county’s ban aims to prevent crowds from gathering, following recent reports from the county’s Department of Public Health of alarming trends of COVID-19 community spread over the past days, with Sunday seeing the single largest, one-day case count of 2,903 new cases. The total had surpassed 100,000 cases by Monday.
“Most people would say the Fourth of July is the most celebrated community holiday in Santa Clarita and it has been for generations,” Mayor Cameron Smyth said Tuesday via a phone interview. “But we are living in unprecedented times. As disappointing as it is to not have the parade, the fireworks show or other activities, we recognize that in order to get back for next year, we have to make some tough decisions this year.”
Upon hearing about canceling all fireworks shows, Smyth said Monday that Public Health did not warn the city in advance about its planned show, which was set to start around 9 p.m. on July 4 with measures in place to prevent spectators from gathering at its annual location at the Westfield Valencia Town Center. Those steps included closing the mall perimeters and parking lot and encouraging residents to watch the show from a livestream or their vehicles.
“We had hoped that if the Health Department had reviewed our protocols prior to the announcement they may have made that exception, given the plans we had in place to prevent any large gatherings around the Town Center,” said Smyth.
The mayor has reiterated that moving forward with the city’s show this year also aimed to deter residents from igniting fireworks at home, which is illegal in Santa Clarita and increases the potential for wildfires.
The county did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
Santa Clarita’s traditional Fourth of July parade, which typically sees about 20,000 people gathered in Old Town Newhall each summer, and later that night, for its annual fireworks show, was also canceled earlier this month due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the city has rolled out with a miniature version of the parade, where residents are encouraged to design and build a small parade float and submit photos for float entries. Winners are set to be announced on Friday.
Public Health’s modified order also directs that county beaches, including piers, public beach parking lots and bike paths that traverse the sanded portions of beaches temporarily close from 12:01 a.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday, July 6, for the same effort to prevent people from gathering amid an ongoing pandemic.
“Closing the beaches and prohibiting fireworks displays during this important summer holiday weekend was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but it’s the responsible decision to protect public health and protect our residents from a deadly virus,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a prepared statement Monday. “The Fourth of July holiday weekend typically means large crowds and gatherings to celebrate, a recipe for increased transmission of COVID-19.”