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Santa Monica Celebrates Independence Day Early

By Lookout Staff

June 24, 2009 – It may not be the Fourth of July. In fact, it’ll still be June, but Santa Monica is ready to celebrate Independence Day with its annual fireworks show this Saturday at Santa Monica College’s Corsair Field.

"Celebrate America" -- the popular outdoor festival -- is free but donations are welcome. The gates to Corsair Field at 16th Street and Pico Boulevard will open at 7 p.m. and the Derek Bordeaux Group will kick in with some rhythm-and-blues at 7:30 p.m.

The fireworks -- by Pyro Spectaculars -- will be fired up at dusk.

While most of the festivities will be held at SMC's Corsair Field, this year there will also be musical entertainment on SMC's new Quad, located near the athletic facility in the center of campus. Music on the Quad will start at 6:30 p.m.

Attendees at “Celebrate America” may bring picnic dinners or purchase from one of the many food vendors. However, because there is a new synthetic surface at Corsair Field, eating and drinking will be allowed only in the stands or anywhere else on the college grounds.

Alcoholic beverages, glass containers, barbecues and fireworks are prohibited.

Though Santa Monica’s Independence day festivities usually take place before the Fourth of July, they have rarely, if ever, been held so far in advance of the anniversary of Congress’ endorsement of the Declaration of Independence.

In fact, on June 27, 1776, Thomas Jefferson had not yet presented the historic document he had drafted, with changes made by Adams and Franklin, to Congress. He would do so the following day.

On July 4, the Congress would formally endorse Jefferson's Declaration, with copies to be sent to all of the colonies. But the actual signing of the document didn’t take place until August 2.

Santa Monica College has been hosting fireworks for 26 years, and for nearly two decades the college’s celebration has been Santa Monica’s sole fireworks display.

The City’s evening fireworks display at the Pier, which drew hundreds of thousands of spectators from Santa Monica and surrounding communities, were scrapped in the late 1980s due to traffic and safety concerns.

In 1990, the City began holding a "Dawn's Early Light" celebration at 4:45 am in hopes that the early hour would result in a thinner crowd. The plan, however, backfired when Dawn's Early Light drew 250,000 people in 1991 and necessitated full deployment of police and fire forces for two days.

In 1992, faced with a celebration that would cost nearly $100,000 and clog the city's streets with traffic, the City Council decided to shelve the fireworks altogether in favor of a small afternoon celebration in Palisades Park.

For years, the council co-sponsored the college's fireworks and limited the City's celebration to afternoon park festivities. Now the park festival has been dismantled, and the City's only role in Fourth of July celebrations is its financial contribution to the event at the college.

Presenting sponsors of the event are the City of Santa Monica and the SMC Associated Students.

For information, call (310) 434-3001.




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