Parks Commissioner and Committee Chairperson, Carol Lopez, interviewed Wendy Weathers, Chairperson of the July 4th event in Livermore. This event was put together by an independent committee working through the Livermore Area Recreation and Park District (LARPD) Foundation, which is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit. LARPD is a separate agency from the City of Livermore.
The group held the event at Las Positas College and charged $5 per person or $20 for a preregistered car and $25 per car on the day of the event. The college had 1,840 parking spaces available. The committee received donations from Flora Tech Management Company for $12,000 and $3,000 from Alameda County Supervisor, Scott Hagerty. The event was a big success. Attendance was 12,000 to 15,000 and they made enough money to fund next year's event.
Last week the Research Subcommittee met with San Ramon Police Chief, Scott Holder, Traffic Engineer, Mike Talley, Fire Dept. Battalion Chief, Derek Krause, and Fireworks producer, Jeff Thomas.
Police Chief Holder reiterated many of the problems we had in 2011 with traffic and overcrowding. Traffic Engineer Mike Talley described what the City can and cannot do to control traffic going to and from Central Park. Battalion Chief Krause described last year's difficulties in getting medical access to the park and offered recommendations for improvements for future events.
Jeff Thomas, whose PYRO Spectaculars company produces most of the fireworks shows in the region, explained the size of field necessary to set off aerial displays at 200', 300', and 400' heights. The rule of thumb is 70 ft. per shell size per radius. So the larger the display in the air, the bigger the space required for the "drop zone," for the left over material dropping from the burst.
Jeff also mentioned that the City of Cupertino changed its fireworks program several years ago and suggested that we contact them to find out how it is going there. So I volunteered to call Cupertino and find out what they are doing and how it is being received by their residents.
Here's a summary of my phone conversation with Cupertino Recreation Coordinator, Kelsey Hayes:
"The fireworks program was originally at the Community College but was changed ten years ago. It is now shot off from the High School but access to the school is closed off. To determine the viewing areas the Director of the Parks department went up in a helicopter and people at different locations and parks reported if they could see the helicopter from where they were. Three nearby parks were chosen as the viewing areas. They also hold events in the morning and afternoon at their Community Center and other parks."
The full 4th of July Citizens Committee met again on August 22nd to review the reports from the two subcommittees and come up with recommendations for the second Community Forum on September 13, 2012. If you want the 4th of July fireworks back, or any other events on the 4th next year, be sure to attend this second, and for now, final forum to consider the options.
The Committee came up with seven scenarios for future 4th of July celebrations and reduced those down to the following five, which are listed unranked below:
1. A centralized event during the day (e.g. Central Park) with fireworks in a different location after dark.
2. Same as 2012, a concert in the park and no fireworks.
3. Event in park with City sponsored barbecue for a fee and non-profit booths with other food and items similar to Art & Wind Festival. Fireworks shows would be held separately that night at the two High Schools and charge admission.*
4. Same as 2011 in Central Park with fireworks brought back there again.
5. Celebrate San Ramon's incorporation on July 1st with events in Central Park and hold a separate fireworks show on the night of July 4th.
The person who suggested the idea will present it at the September 13th Community Forum. Another Committee member wanted to add a morning hike with check-in stations. The Committee felt this could be added to the events in any of the above scenarios, so it wasn't considered as a separate scenario.
* I came up with #3. I suggested the barbecue and food booths as fund raisers for local charities and to keep individual barbecues and hibachis from causing a fire hazard. By holding the fireworks later that night at the two high schools, admission could be charged to help cover the cost of the event.
Dougherty Valley High School football stadium has a seating capacity of about 2700. Cal High has a seating capacity of 2450. Parking at DV High is 911 and about 600 at Cal High, but shuttle busses could be provided to make it easier for people not close to the schools to get to the events. The fireworks would also be visible in the surrounding neighborhoods.
The two high schools, or someplace else, could be used for the night time fireworks proposed in Scenarios 1 and 5. Scenario 2 doesn't include fireworks and Scenario 4 would bring the fireworks back to Central Park.