It did not take long for the Menifee City Council to decide the city’s annual Independence Day Celebration fireworks display must go on, despite the continuing coronavirus pandemic orders which limit large crowd gatherings. The fireworks show will be presented Saturday, June 27, a week before the Fourth of July.
“We are the U.S. and we love our country. This traditional Independence Day celebration must go on,” Menifee Mayor Bill Zimmerman said in the Thursday, May 14, special city council meeting held online.
The council gave the Community Services Department direction on how and if the annual Independence Day Celebration should continue, provided the county and/or state do not ban the celebrations and fireworks display moving forward.
Council members discussed four options presented by Community Services staff, which included: holding the regular event with additional health and safety measures; limiting attendance through a ticketed system; having the fireworks display only to view from parked cars or nearby homes only and cancel the in-person components and parade or cancel the entire event and add a fireworks display to a future event.
Hearing the options, the city council approved the third option to host a fireworks display only and none of the regular park activities such as the children’s zone, vendors or parade.
“Menifee has a long history, well before incorporation, of hosting an Independence Day event which has occurred on the last weekend in June, and the city takes serious pride in celebrating our freedom, our country, our military, our city and neighbors,” Lesa Sobek, District 3 council member, said.
“We need to continue this piece of our city history to celebrate as a community the best we can, especially during this pandemic, but we need to do it in a way that maintains Menifee’s health and safety,” Zimmerman said. “This option also allows the city to save critical revenue for other vital city services, but also provides a mechanism for a community event that Menifee has come to expect and enjoy.”
The city council directed staff to use some of the cost savings from previously canceled events due to the coronavirus pandemic to enhance the fireworks display. Several members of the council suggested the fireworks display should be even bigger this year with the city spending up to $35,000 on the fireworks show. The city usually will spend about $25,000 for the fireworks display portion of the celebration.
They also expressed the view that if the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, the vendors would be able to return for the event.
Sobek said one of the vendors, the Menifee Women’s Club, uses the Independence Day celebration as their major fundraiser for the year. She said she hoped they would be able to attend if the restrictions are lifted in time.
“It is very important for the city to celebrate Independence Day, especially now when residents are closed in, complying with social distancing and having limitations placed on them about interacting with neighbors and other community members,” Mayor Pro Tem Matt Liesemeyer said.
The Community Services Department will return to the council before the event with their recommendations and plans for the fireworks display.
Tony Ault can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.