City to help Hemet’s ‘Ramona Pageant’ with kickoff festivities

The Hemet City Council, continuing its support for the downtown Hemet historical revitalization effort by local merchants, has approved up to $5,000 in in kind services for a first time ever “Ramona Pageant” kickoff the weekend of April 1.

The Ramona Pageant Association that for the past 94 years puts on the historic play based on the Helen Hunt Jackson “Ramona” novel in their slate of planned activities for this years’ play came up with the idea to join with the regular Saturday craft fair activities on Harvard and Front Streets. It also coincides with a planned Central County United Way’s annual food truck festival at the Fingerprints Youth Museum on Carmalita Street. The “Ramona Pageant” first time ever kickoff event set April 1 will be called the “Ramona Spring Festival.”

“This is sort of a special event that will kick off the Ramona season and to provide an economic development opportunity for businesses and nonprofits that are in the downtown area,” said City Manager Alex Meyerhoff introducing the event to the council. The in-kind services from the city would come from the public works department, city engineer, police and fire departments for that day. He said this event would be for one day but saw the possibility that it would become a weekend event in the future.

It was also mentioned that on the Friday night before the event would be a special dramatic play related to “Ramona,” California’s only official outdoor play, performed at the Diamond Valley Arts Center on North Harvard.

Lori Van Arsdale, representing the Ramona Pageant Association, explained to the council how the Ramona Spring Festival would benefit the city, the merchants and the nonprofits and gave a brief history of Hemet and San Jacinto’s efforts to promote the play. She said City Councilwoman Linda Krupa, who sits on the Ramona Pageant Board, came up with the kickoff event. “it is a great kickoff for the Nation’s longest running outdoor play… It is an 1860s-theme event and we want people dress up and have fun.”

Following the presentation, the council in a 4-0 unanimous vote approved the festival idea and urged members of the audience to spread the word and turn out for the April 1 festivities.

In response to a public comment made by Jon Brookhart who lives next to the Seattle Basin (flood control basin) between Menlo and Cawston Avenues about serious flooding that took place there Jan. 22 and 23 the Council said they will check into ways to call a “state of emergency” before and after for the flooding problem.

Brookhart, who praised the fire department for its action warning residents during the flooding, provided the city information about the Robert P. Stafford Emergency Assistance Act under Federal Emergency Management Agency that might help the city with the flooding problems. The city manager took the information for study.

In another action related to flood control the Council adopted a resolution to support the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority’s One Water One Watershed 2.0 Plan. One Water One Watershed is an innovative Integrated Regional Water Management Plan planning process being developed within the Santa Ana River Watershed. The plan that will provide a management guide for future water use in the area that includes the Hemet/San Jacinto Valley. The council with its support will have a say in the planning process.

Hemet Fire Chief Scott Brown reported to the council that the department now has three paramedics in training, three candidates being screened, a new battalion chief with two more internal candidates for chief positions. The recruiting action will enhance the department and be included in 45 positions to be filled with the funding from the recently passed Measure U one-cent sales tax.

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