Normal traditions surrounding Independence Day in South Pasadena, known as Festival of Balloons, have been snuffed out for the second straight year over COVID concerns.
The usual pancake breakfast, opening ceremonies on the footsteps of the community room at the local library, parade down Mission Street and the fireworks show have all been put on hold.
Putting it all together each year is a group comprised of some 15 individuals, many of whom have been part of popular hometown attraction for more than 20 years.
“When our committee was faced with a decision to move ahead with the Festival of Balloons under COVID-19 restrictions in late April, Los Angeles County, and most of the state, was still under strict rules of social distancing, mask-wearing, and large crowds,” said Joe Payne, the event’s chair. “At the same time, vaccinations were still not approved for those under age 12, the vast majority of our parade participants.”
Noting it wasn’t an easy decision, Payne added: “Our greatest concern was that we would have a limited attendance at the fireworks show, our only source of income for the committee. The nonrefundable deposit before the show would have been in jeopardy if the show should be called off or limited attendance would not cover the balance due.”
Committee members anticipate meeting in the fall to begin work on next year’s July 4th bash in the city. “We felt the prudent thing to do was to forego the event and plan for 2022 when, hopefully, COVID-19 was no longer a threat to health and safety,” said Payne.
Those wanting to be a part of the next scheduled Festival of Balloons meeting on September 22 at 7 p.m., providing their ideas and input, are urged to contact either Payne at email@example.com or South Pasadena Community Services Director Sheila Pautsch at firstname.lastname@example.org