On Monday, June 29, 2020, a press release was issued from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announcing that all fireworks displays in the county are prohibited this Fourth of July holiday weekend.
The city of Santa Clarita’s Spirit of America Fireworks show was scheduled for the Fourth and planned to be a “non-traditional” show in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Barbara Ferrer, without any consultation with the city of Santa Clarita.
“After all the milestone events and celebrations that have been canceled to slow the spread of COVID, the city of Santa Clarita was looking forward to hosting this show to allow our community to enjoy a sense of normalcy,” said Mayor Cameron Smyth. “We were disappointed the decision to prohibit all shows was made without taking our safety protocols to restrict gatherings into consideration.”
“To prevent crowding that could result in the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Public Health announced yesterday that fireworks displays are prohibited in Los Angeles County this weekend,” said L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the county’s Fifth District including the Santa Clarita Valley, in a statement Wednesday.
“Fireworks shows have been an integral part of July 4th celebrations since the first Independence Day in 1777,” Barger said. “I understand that multiple cities, including those in my district, planned for and allocated resources toward fireworks displays that adhered to strict physical distancing protocols. It is disappointing that these decisions were made at the last minute without providing cities the opportunity to present their safety plans or give input.”
The percentage of positive COVID cases in Santa Clarita makes up an extremely small percentage of the total cases in Los Angeles County. With the size of the county, this decision should not have been a blanket approach but should have taken into account the precautions Santa Clarita put in place.
The now-canceled fireworks show was intended to be launched from a central location in the city, the parking lot of Westfield Valencia Town Center, to allow a large portion of residents to be able to view the display from their homes or neighborhood parks. The entire mall and surrounding parking lots were planned to be closed to avoid opportunities for public gatherings.
In addition, extensive public outreach was conducted, encouraging residents to watch from their vehicles, view the live-stream online or if they can see the display in person, enjoy it while practicing the necessary social distancing.
A fireworks safety press conference was held at Fire Station 126 on Monday morning, encouraging residents to leave the fireworks to the professionals and not use illegal fireworks, which can cause injuries, spark brush fires and cause trauma. Without the professional display, the likelihood of celebrations, including illegal fireworks, is sure to increase.
“We want to remind residents that all fireworks are illegal in Santa Clarita,” Smyth said. “Please report illegal use through the City’s Resident Service Center to help inform our Sheriff patrols throughout the weekend.”
Through the “Illegal Fireworks” category in the city’s Resident Service Center, residents can report locations that have been problem areas for illegal fireworks in past years.
This information will be automatically transmitted to the Sheriff’s Department so they can enter it into their database and know where they should focus their patrols. The information gathered will be used to “predictively” map out problem areas of concern for law enforcement efforts.
Reporting illegal fireworks through RSC will NOT result in an immediate response from the Sheriff’s Department.
The public can also report illegal fireworks anonymously by calling the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station at 661-255-1121. Please do not dial 9-1-1 to report illegal fireworks unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
For more information, visit Santa-Clarita.com/Fireworks.