By SARAH SHMERLING and STEVE GALLUZZO
When the Fourth of July rolls around, there will be no chairs lining Sunset Boulevard, no race to kick the day off, no concert and fireworks to end the night.
Beloved Pacific Palisades festivities, including the Palisades Will Rogers 5 & 10K, the 72nd annual Palisades Parade, and Palisades Rocks the Fourth concert and fireworks, have been canceled due to COVID-19, Race President Brian Shea and Parade (PAPA) President Matthew Rodman confirmed in a letter addressed to the community.
“The health and safety of our community is paramount, and the limits on large social gatherings necessitates this difficult decision,” the letter explained. “While we’ll have many more Independence Days to celebrate, today we must all do our part to safeguard the health of our community.”
The organizers added the Patriotic Home Decorating Contest will still take place.
“This Fourth of July we’ll welcome a squadron of WWII fighter planes for a community-wide flyover at 2 p.m., which you can and should view from your home,” Rodman and Shea explained. “We’re hoping that you’ll celebrate, albeit in a different way in 2020.”
When asked why the fireworks show was canceled, event organizer Susan Montgomery explained the city of Los Angeles would not issue a permit because of crowding, but that the committee is working on other ideas.
“Reverse the parade,” Terry Lewis Lyman suggested. “Decorate floats and yards and let people drive by safe in their own cars.”
Arwen Hernandez, former band director at Palisades Charter High School, shared that she has fond memories of the parade, but supports PAPA’s decision.
“I’m sorry to hear this,” Hernandez wrote, “but thank you for making a carefully considered choice for the good of the community.”
Shea said there is some thought being given to a “virtual race” for area high school teams to compete for the Dick Lemen Memorial Trophy (a competition that debuted last year) and will be discussed with Greg Sack of Spectrum Timing Services, the event’s race timing company in past years. Race T-shirts and Kids Fun Run T-shirts for 2020 are available for a donation.
The first race committee meeting was scheduled for April 1 in the Palisades Village, but ultimately it and all subsequent meetings were tabled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Over the next month, Shea and his dedicated team held out hope that the 43rd edition of the local Fourth of July race might still take place.
The race, which starts and finishes at Palisades Recreation Center, has been run every year since 1978. Shea, along with fellow Palisades Ridge Runners Chris Carlson and Bill Klein, mapped out a course and got the necessary permits to hold the inaugural 10K and the event has grown in popularity ever since. A 5K was added in 1986. The 10K is regarded as one of the toughest in California and the race attracts between 2,500 and 3,000 runners annually.
“On behalf of the Palisades Americanism Parade Association and the Palisades-Will Rogers 5K/10K Run Foundation, we wish you and your family the very best,” the letter concludes. “Palisadians have a history of sticking together, helping our neighbors and always persevering. This year, let us redouble our efforts to support each other.”
The Palisades Fourth of July website, available at palisades4th.com, will have information and updates as they become available.
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