4th of July Parade, Concerts in Park Still on Hold

Due to COVID-19, no plans, according to South Pasadena Community Services Director Sheila Paustch, are currently in the works for city summer events and programs, including 4th of July Festival of Balloons, band concerts at Garfield Park, and day camps

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Garfield Park in South Pasadena

Easter is on the horizon, but due to COVID-19, South Pasadena’s annual Spring Eggstravaganza will have a different look this year.

The coronavirus has changed many traditions, among them the way the city’s Community Services Department delivers it programs to the public.

Multiple events have been of the drive-thru variety, including a Halloween attraction last fall, many for seniors, and now the attention is being directed to one involving a folkloric figure – a symbol of Easter – wearing bunny ears.

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Among the newest events given a new look will be Spring Eggstravaganza on Saturday, April 3, when the city will ask participants to drive through a treat trail from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Arroyo Seco Golf Course parking lot and receive gifts from Community Services Department officials and other giveaways from local organizations.

And, of course, the Easter Bunny plans to make a visit.

FILE PHOTO: Henk Friezer | SouthPasadenan.com | Easter Day “Eggstravaganza” at Garfield Park 2018. Easter Bunny hanging out with Community Services Director Sheila Pautsch

“The Senior Center has provided many small drive-thru special events for our seniors and delivered special items to our homebound seniors,” explained Sheila Pautsch, now in her 12th year as the South Pasadena Community Services Director.

The drive-thru Easter event comes at a time when the coronavirus continues to make its impact on traditional efforts in town. No plans, according to Pautch, are currently in the works for city summer events and programs, including 4th of July Festival of Balloons, band concerts at Garfield Park, and day camps due to the virus.

On the bright side, however, Pautsch’s department is planning for the fall, with an anticipated reopening of the South Pasadena Senior Center, the launching of the Camp Med after-school program, and restarting a variety of live special events like Walk or Bike to School, Halloween, and a year-end Breakfast with Santa.

“As the Los Angeles County Public Health Order allows the opening of additional facilities and or activities planned, it will increase programs, activities, and events,” explained Pautsch.

Her role is a large one as she oversees Senior, Recreation and Youth Services and the Dial a Ride division, along with the overall administration of the department, management of the Arroyo Seco Golf Course, San Pascual Stables, Arroyo Seco Racquet Club, All-Star Baseball Batting Cages, the Iron Works Museum, oversight of grants and Community Services Department budget.

FILE PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com News | The Arroyo Seco Pedestrian and Bicycle Trail

In addition, the Park and Recreation Commission, the Senior Citizens Commission and Youth Commission, along with two committees – the Festival of Balloons and South Pasadena Tournament of Roses – are under her umbrella of control.

“I love what I do,” enthused Pautsch. “I do not see it as a job at all. Working with the community is what I love to do. Our community is involved in so many aspects. They respect and appreciate the environment, enjoy a walk-able community, volunteer to help their neighbors, and enjoy the safety and security of living in their city.”

She stressed, “There is nothing I can say I do not like.”

And that includes facing the difficulties of the day and doing what she can to overcome obstacles in face of the virus. Finding ways to hold events like next month’s Spring Eggstravaganza has been Pautsch’s biggest challenge through COVID, as her department continues to serve the community in a new, responsible and innovative way. One of her biggest concerns was getting meals to seniors, those who are accustomed to coming to the Senior Center for lunch. “We continue to deliver to our homebound seniors,” she said. “It has been hard for many seniors not to see each other, attend classes, talk with friends or even use the computer lab to communicate with family through emails. I worry about them as they have become a part of my extended family.”

Dial-A-Ride Services have been maintained throughout the past year as many seniors continue to seek transportation for doctor appointments, the pharmacy, grocery stores, banks, the post office and for other purposes. “Seniors have appreciated the fact we’re still here for them,” said Pautsch. “They feel very safe with the drivers and enjoy visiting when in transit.”

The local Senior Center has been closed for 11 months “and it has been a very long year,” insisted Pautsch. “Our seniors want to come back to the center. They miss each other, the staff, and being active.”

She hopes workers around her will soon be vaccinated, adding: “Protecting my staff is a priority to the city and myself.”

Pautsch urges the community to use city parks, with caution, of course, encouraging the wearing of face coverings and practice of social and physical distancing.

“I have enjoyed the community use of our parks during the pandemic and hope residents continue to be active and visit them once things go back to somewhat normal,” she said. “I must encourage park visitors to wear a mask as we still need to protect each other to end this pandemic. Respect your neighbor when walking the city streets and enjoying our parks.”

If the virus isn’t trouble enough, the Community Services Department is shorthanded with three vacancies, including the Senior Center Supervisor position held by longtime employee Lilly Torres, who recently retired.

Grit and determination are paving the way. The remainder of Pautch’s team have been asked to step up, work hard, and continue to make a difference for others.   

“We are currently a small crew working to serve the community, and do all we can to keep seniors and youth engaged in recreation and socialization,” she said.

To register for the South Pasadena’s annual Spring Eggstravaganza, visit www.southpasadenaca.gov/onlinereg or call the city’s Recreation Division at (626) 4037380 or by email at recreation@southpasadenaca.gov.