City recaps Fourth of July events

by Claremont City Staff

Prior to the pandemic, Claremont’s city staff had begun to make changes to the Fourth of July parade route and Freedom 5,000 and 1K Children’s Fun Run route with the intention of improving safety.

Previously the courses were not fully closed, meaning that streets were not fully barricaded and manned to prevent vehicles from entering the route (accidentally or intentionally). In 2021, the city’s engineering staff developed a street closure plan that follows state guidelines for both the parade route and the Freedom 5,000 5K Run/Walk. The closure plan requires specific safety-rated barricades and staffing for each street closure along the route. Essentially, the city has to plan and implement street closures for four events in order to ensure the safety of all participants: the Freedom 5,000 and 1K Children’s Fun Run, the parade, the festival, and the concert and fireworks show at Pomona College.

With the new street closure plans came an increased need for staffing. The city has a dedicated but fairly small staff of approximately 200 full and part time employees. In 2021, the Independence Day Committee and city staff looked at staffing requirements of the four events and determined they were too large for all of them to take place on the same day. So, the decision was made to have the race the Saturday before the Fourth of July.

This year’s race attendance, about 900, was strong, in fact it almost doubled last year’s competitors. But it was still well short of the pre-pandemic numbers, which were usually around 1,200. The event was staffed by 48 human services department employees, five police department staff, two engineers, and two administrative department employees. Volunteers from the Claremont High School Cross Country Team and Race Wire assisted with registration, bib handouts, and refreshment stations. (Volunteers must be over 18 to work the street closure barricades.)

With the move of the day of the race to the Saturday before the Fourth of July, the parade start time was also changed to earlier in the day, when temperatures were cooler. The parade was staffed by approximately 40 city staff and seven police officers. The festival was staffed by the remaining city staff. The city received positive feedback on the time change for the parade, and there was a marked reduction heat-related emergencies compared to years past. The festival was well attended, despite the heat. The Claremont City Council handed out approximately 1,500 cups of lemonade at its lemonade booth, more than any previous year.

Staffing the parade route with volunteers is a challenge as many of Claremont’s community organizations — the typical volunteer pool for extra help with such events — have entries in the parade or information booths at the festival, or in the case of the Kiwanis, are manning their pancake breakfast.

The concert and fireworks show returned this year after a three year absence due to the pandemic and drought. The contract for the pyrotechnics company was chosen by the City Council for its lower water use prior to the easing of the water restrictions by Metropolitan Water District in May, with fireworks were shot off closer to the ground, reducing the fall out zone and the subsequent pre-watering area. Ticket sales were down this year from pre-pandemic levels by about half. The city has said drought conditions will be evaluated by staff in the planning of next year’s fireworks show. Improved drought conditions could allow for the return of a full aerial firework show.

There are many factors that affect the attendance at each event, including the day on which the holiday falls on, weather, travel restrictions following the pandemic, and national/global events. These factors can impact not only Claremont’s Independence Day events but other cities’ as well.

In the coming days and weeks city staff will be evaluating all aspects of this year’s Fourth of July celebration, including reviewing the community’s input. Staff will use this process to make recommendations to the Independence Day Committee to ensure a great event next year.

Additional information:

5K – 1 officer/ 6 volunteers (7)

Parade – 11 officers / 1 parking enforcement / 19 volunteers (31)

Fireworks – 13 officers / 1 explorer / 7 volunteers (21)

***Volunteers are a combination of explorers, community patrol, and CERT***

All City staff that is non-exempt receives overtime including officers. There is no cap on overtime for this event. Overtime was not a consideration in the changing of the events to two days, rather the number of employees to man the events safely.

This year a low-aerial fireworks display was chosen Claremont was under much stricter water conservation orders than Upland (SB County). We don’t anticipate that we will be facing the same drought conditions this year


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