Funky Fourth of July in Claremont

July 4th Fireworks in Claremont

by Andrew Alonzo and Matthew Weinberger | and

Although it was the second year in a row without a city-hosted fireworks display, neighbors, families and friends still came together in Claremont to celebrate the nation’s birthday in their own special ways through music, dancing, a wedding proposal and even a mini parade.

Congratulations Mr. Roberts and Ms. Matthews
While fireworks were banned in the city, sparks still flew at Sanctuary Coffee in the early afternoon as one couple made this Fourth a date to remember. Right outside the coffee shop where their relationship began, Al Roberts got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend of two years, Marcia Matthews. The couple began dating on April 7, 2019 after they noticed each other at Sanctuary Coffee’s previous location.
Mr. Roberts, after ordering a carrot cake, sat down at Ms. Matthews’ table and the couple played Jenga and chatted for five hours about life and relationships. After the impromptu blind date, Mr. Roberts knew a week later that he wanted to marry Ms. Matthews.
In an email they shared that dating through the pandemic not only strengthened their relationship, but also placed a sense of urgency on it. Mr. Roberts said he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Ms. Matthews and emphasized it was never a sense of “if” he was going to pop the big question, but “when.” He said God guided him toward when to ask Ms. Matthews to be his wife.
“Yeah, we sat for five hours and we just laid everything out on the table and we were just completely and utterly honest with each other,” Ms. Matthews said. When asked about relationship advice, in unison they both said “transparency.”
The couple plan to get married next year. The COURIER extends our best wishes for the Matthews and Roberts families, and to the happy couple.

Block Party
Music and dancing rocked the block on Blaisdell Drive as neighbors transformed their cul-de-sacs into small picnic areas to celebrate the Fourth of July. At about 5 p.m., the neighbors held a block party that featured friendly faces, kids riding festively decorated bikes and feasting on crowd-pleasing tacos.
About 40 neighbors from Blaisdell and surrounding streets including Lowell Avenue, Bates Place and Beloit Avenue came out to mingle. One of the party coordinators, Lelia Hawkins, said the block party is something the neighbors wanted to organize so that the neighboring children could have something fun to do on the Fourth of July for the second year in a row without official city-sanctioned festivities.
Acknowledging that the block party is a different way of celebrating the Fourth of July, Ms. Hawkins said that as long as the children are having fun, they [hopefully] won’t notice the absence of fireworks and instead focus on their friends.
“Of course, it’s not going to be anything compared to the usual festivities that we’ll really enjoy. So we’ll look forward to that when they come back,” Ms. Hawkins said. “I think the difference will be more intimate. We’ll get to talk to our neighbors and it’ll be a chance to build community with our neighbors in a way that [we] might not otherwise [do] if we were all scattered at the big event.”
On March 3, 2021 the city announced they would be canceling this year’s festivities, including their annual parade, for the second time. So instead, the neighbors decided that if they were not going to get to watch fireworks, they were going to have a parade. The Blaisdell Drive children and parents took it upon themselves to organize a small march around their block with children decorating their bicycles and Little Tikes cars in red, white and blue. Families marched and pushed their little ones in strollers while older children rode their bikes on the breezy Sunday.

Farmers Market and Memorial Park
While some might have felt the holiday was just another Sunday, the farmers market was in full swing with customers buying local food and produce.

Unfortunately, Memorial Park, known for its Independence Day activities and parade, was a virtual ghost park with very few visitors throughout the day. The COURIER happened to encounter the Happy Neighbor Club playing their musical instruments—simply enjoying the warm afternoon.

Upland Fireworks
While Claremont canceled their pyrotechnics display this year, the adjacent city of Upland held their fireworks show at the corner of Base Line Road and Monte Vista. People parked their cars at the nearby Sycamore Hills Plaza and set up chairs throughout the parking lot. Illuminating the sky for a short while, the fireworks show offered a slight return to normal. Next year, let’s hope Claremont’s July 4th celebration comes roaring back in pre-COVID fashion.


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