Pushing health and safety first, South Pasadena, known for it Norman Rockwell splendor especially on the 4th of July, will give way to different look on the major holiday in face of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Long recognized as the Festival of Balloons, in a one-year reprieve from the name, Independence Day has turned into a Festival of Art as the pancake breakfast, parade, games at the park and fireworks show won’t be held as the number of cases for the virus continue to increase in LA County, prompting growing concern from health officials.
To mark the day, community members have submitted about 40 posters to South Pasadena’s Recreation Department, which Joe Payne, the chair of Festival of Balloons, has attached to light standards up-and-down Fair Oaks Avenue. Posters are still being accepted.
The theme for the poster is “Better Together – 6 Feet Apart.” Along with flags hanging throughout the business district, Sheila Pautsch, the city’s community services director, said her recreation staff is adding some additional decorations along the two main thoroughfares to help put the city in high spirit for America’s Birthday during the country’s troubling times.
In addition, the South Pasadena Arts Council (SPARC) is working with the local chamber in decorating storefront windows “to bring an added charm to the event,” said Pautsch. “SPARC is working with student artists and a few local artists as well.
Transition South Pasadena, an organization that focuses on building community through environmental and sustainability projects, is also making homemade flag banners that will also be hung near the artwork.
In lieu of the usual happenings, the Festival of Art “is just a way to bring residents out for a walk on Mission and or Fair Oaks to see the art, shop and dine,” explained Pautsch. “We encourage the community to shop local as many businesses are struggling. We will be placing a few picnic tables in the park and plaza area by the Walking Man structure to give people a place to grab lunch and dine on the picnic benches.”
Joining Payne from the Festival of Balloons in creating a festive atmosphere during troubled times are Chamber of Commerce President Laurie Wheeler, Sandy Kitto from SPARC and Madeline Di Giorgi and Rona Bortz from Transition South Pasadena.
“It’s been a challenging few months for everyone, and now it’s time to have some fun in our community,” explained Wheeler in a statement. “If you haven’t strolled through South Pasadena lately, the July 4 weekend is the perfect time to come out with the family to enjoy food from your favorite restaurants and shop local.”
The 4th of July will look different, but Pautsch, like others, recognizes it will be short lived, noting that other local cities will not be scheduling fireworks shows, some moving to a virtual flat form.
“Though we could not have our normal events, we are rallying the community to come out support their local businesses, stroll the beautiful streets and show their hometown pride the old fashion way,” expressed Pautsch. “Wear your red, white and blue, be with family and celebrate our great city.”
Added Wheeler: “While the traditional Festival of Balloons parade, fireworks and other festivities are cancelled this year due to coronavirus concerns, we invite the community to support our local businesses and celebrate their re-opening as we celebrate the July 4 holiday.”