SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — After having to cancel a 50-year Independence Day tradition last year, several community groups have come together to bring 4th of July fireworks and festivities back to Rancho Bernardo.
“People just really enjoy coming to our event, I guess, and keep supporting us and coming back," said Dave Brooks, President of Spirit of the Fourth.
In 2019, Spirit of the Fourth celebrated its 50th year of providing an Independence Day full of community activities, including a parade, car show, and, of course, fireworks. The event had to be canceled for 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Through the first several months of 2021, there was uncertainty about whether the event could return and, if so, in what form.
“Every month we would look at the vaccination progress, what tier we were in, and try to figure out how to do this thing," Brooks said.
Ultimately, the decision was made that most of the community events could not be put together in time, but that they would make an effort to keep the fireworks show. Normally, about half of the $60,000 cost of the event would be paid from grants from the City and County. However, with that funding unavailable due to the pandemic, Spirit of the Fourth began working to raise the money themselves. Organizers were able to scrape together enough for the fireworks show to go on.
“Even people who said that they weren’t going to be able to make it to the show itself, they still contributed, and that just goes to the humanity of it all that they were still willing to support an event that they weren’t even going to be able to attend," said Spirit of the Fourth member Lynn Ewing.
When it became clear that Spirit of the Fourth would be unable to put on events beyond the fireworks show, other local community groups sprang into action. The Rancho Bernardo Community Council and Rancho Bernardo Parks and Rec Advisory Board teamed up and offered to put together a smaller parade and carnival.
“We just want to give it an old fashioned feel. A neighborhood thing like when you get together with the people on your street," said Robin Kaufman, who works with both groups.
By holding it at Rancho Bernardo Community Park instead of closing of Bernardo Center Drive like years past, there were fewer permit and logistical hurdles. And by pooling resources and contacts, the groups hope to allow families to enjoy an Independence Day celebration that may be different from years past, but will still live up to the Rancho Bernardo tradition.
“It’s not just Independence Day. This is independence from the pandemic," Kaufman said.
Spirit of the Fourth organizers say they are grateful for all the community support and that other groups came together to celebrate the holiday.
“We’re so patriotic and we have so many people that volunteer for so many things for such a small community and that gives me a sense of pride," said Myrna Estremera of Spirit of the Fourth.
The parade and carnival will take place Saturday, July 3 at Rancho Bernardo Community Park. The parade begins at 10 a.m. Those wishing to participate are asked to RSVP in advance to the Rancho Bernardo Community Council. The carnival will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For the July 4 fireworks show, gates at Bernardo Heights Middle School will open at 6 p.m. with the fireworks show beginning at 9 p.m. Free parking is available at neighboring Rancho Bernardo High.