It has been canceled but Michael Cacciotti doesn’t want to completely rule it out.
With disappointment over the fact this year’s Festival of Balloons won’t take place, the longtime councilmember is encouraging city officials to hold a “smaller version” of the popular Festival of Balloons event on the 4th of July.
Yes, Cacciotti realizes as a result of social distancing in face of coronavirus, there will not be a traditional parade, festivities in Garfield Park and fireworks show, but he is convinced there’s still a way to create some fun and pull the community together on Independence Day.
Through signage up and down the parade route, the councilmember would like to honor local heroes in the community – graduating seniors, city staff, community volunteers, first responders, individuals delivering meals on wheels – to “improve community spirit and morale during these challenging times,” he said in an email laying out his ideas with South Pasadena Mayor Bob Joe.
Cacciotti believes lining the street with messages will increase foot traffic in the business district and “provide a boost to our mom and pop merchants,” he said, anxious to help struggling businesses that can’t escape difficult times as the pandemic continues.
One resident has told Cacciotti she’d like to see red, white and blue balloons tied to light poles along the parade route.
“We could coordinate with the school district, staff, the chamber, etc., to have banners/photos along Mission Street and Fair Oaks Ave of our honorees, whoever they are, and encourage our residents to walk along the sidewalks to see the banners and shop (if open), pick up food to go from the local restaurants, coffee shops, etc.,” he explained.
Cacciotti pointed out that many cities in the San Gabriel Valley have banners on the streets showing pictures of graduating seniors, their names, and the college they will be attending — South Pasadena has implemented its own version of this as well. The same principle can carry over to the city’s ‘Festival of Balloons’.
“Unfortunately we don’t have much time to plan this, but possibly something to discuss with the school district, school board and chamber,” he added. “But, if we did this, the school district and chamber would have to partner with the city. Otherwise it would be too much for the city to coordinate alone.”
From the city’s standpoint, the Festival of Balloons falls under the jurisdiction of South Pasadena Community Services Director Sheila Pautsch. “I appreciate Councilmember Michael Cacciotti’s enthusiasm to create a sense of community pride during these uncertain times,’ she said. “Youth art work lining Mission and Fair Oaks, adding red, white and blue balloons added closer to the 4th of July and a few large street banners honoring and thanking the many volunteers, first responders, shop owners and city staff can bring out the spirit our residents have towards their community.”