By Roz Rogoff
4th of July in the ParkUploaded: Jul 4, 2013
Last year the City Council voted not to hold fireworks on the 4th of July. They held a concert in Central Park instead. That was the first year I attended the event in the park. In the past I watched the fireworks from my house or a neighbor's house, since they were visible in the night sky over most of San Ramon.
Central Park was packed last year with people on the hill around the amphitheater all the way down to the bandstand. I arrived about 5:30 pm and put a chair near the bandstand where Pride and Joy were performing. Over 2,200 people were estimated to have attended last year.
Last year I missed the San Ramon Symphonic Band which started off the festivities at 4 pm. So this year I went early and arrived just as the Symphonic Band was setting up. I put my chair up on a ridge near a tree but without much shade from the tree.
Kathi Heimann, who was MC'ing the event for the Parks and Community Services Department, came over after introducing the band and asked why I was sitting in the sun. I liked sitting off by myself and I had an unobstructed view. I was wearing my Tilly hat and there was a very nice breeze blowing, almost keeping me cool. So I felt I didn't need to move over to the shady side of the park where most of the crowds were.
After the Symphonic Band finished its concert there was a flag ceremony and Mayor Bill Clarkson made a speech about the 30th anniversary of the incorporation of San Ramon. He described how San Ramon's founding fathers and mothers fought Contra Costa County for our independence and WON! That was way back in 1776, no 1976, no 1983. Whew, let's get those dates right, boys and girls.
The Mayor introduced some of the past City Council members and paid tribute to all of the people there who served in the armed forces. Then it was time for the featured dance band, which the city's website described as playing ". . . your favorite hits of the 80's presented by the high energy dance band, The Cheeseballs!" I didn't have any favorite hits in the '80's when I lived in the '80's, and the heat was getting to me, so I left.
I was disappointed in the event this year. Last year it seemed bigger and better but maybe I came too early and left too early. Also it wasn't as hot last year so more people probably came out to the park. Maybe some thought there would still be fireworks last year.
I was on the committee last year to plan the 4th of July event for this year and in the future. I wasn't surprised that most of the committee members, and residents who participated in the discussions on Open San Ramon, wanted to bring the fireworks back this year. I was surprised however that the second choice was no fireworks at all. I thought the option of having the fireworks in a different location or combining the event with neighboring cities would get more support.
I asked Kathi Heimann if they might consider adding a ground display, which was another option considered by the committee, but she said it's really a budget issue. The city's budget is still very tight. Most of the expense in 2011 went into policing and security because of all of the people coming from outside of San Ramon to attend our event. So to discourage them from coming, we may have discouraged us from coming.
Kathi said we might still have fireworks but not on the 4th of July. So that's where we stand now, but a celebration in the park is still a nice family event with band music and dance music, tributes to the military, and picnics under the trees. What's not to like? Oh yes, 105 not in the shade, and nobody selling ice cream.