It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t had an event they had planned for 2020 derailed because of COVID-19, and July 4th activities turned out to be no exception. For several individuals who spoke to the News-Press on State Street Monday afternoon, parties and annual trips were among the traditional Independence Day events that had to be cancelled.
Though their original plans for the holiday couldn’t happen this past weekend, most individuals interviewed managed to find some alternative way of celebrating America’s founding.
Santa Barbara resident Summer Kirkpatrick initially expected to spend her Fourth of July working a shift at Sandbar, but upon getting the day off, she spent Saturday with a small group of friends for a backyard cookout. The small hangout came about because she and her friends “didn’t have plans” to do anything else locally since Santa Barbara County beaches were ordered to close by the Public Health Department on July 3. Ms. Kirkpatrick said she really wanted to spend Independence Day on the beach because the pandemic precluded her usual plan — a trip back to her home state of Colorado.
“Usually around Fourth of July, I’m in Colorado and I go to a Red Rocks concert every Fourth of July, and that did not happen this year of course, because the amphitheater is closed. I wanted to spend it on the beach because I actually had never done that before either, and then they closed the beaches. Maybe next year,” she said.
Despite restrictions, some out-of-towners did decide to stop by Santa Barbara over Independence Day weekend. Contra Costa County resident Josh Mendez brought his family to Santa Barbara because “the weather is beautiful” and because his family was “tired of being at home.” Normally, he, his wife, and his two kids stay home to watch the fireworks in San Francisco, but this year the fireworks display was cancelled. After spending the weekend walking around State Street and along the beach, Mr. Mendez said his family’s first visit to Santa Barbara didn’t disappoint.
“It’s beautiful, we love it here. We’re looking forward to coming back,” he said.
Albany, New York resident and soon-to-be UCSB student Andrew Foley had recently stopped in town with his girlfriend on the way to Reading so he could show her his “new stomping grounds.” On Saturday, however, he and his girlfriend stayed at a hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, for a quiet Fourth of July. Usually Mr. Foley enjoys a fireworks show during the holiday, but this time he only saw some exploding fireworks while driving on the highway.
Under normal circumstances, Ventura resident Chris Baker would have gone to a park to celebrate the holiday with his family. But since he lives with his grandfather, who is in the most at-risk demographic for contracting COVID-19, Mr. Baker didn’t want to jeopardize his health for a day of partying and ultimately stayed home.
“I just didn’t want to put anyone else at risk,” he said.
Describing this year’s Fourth of July as “pretty boring” compared to those of past years, Santa Barbara resident Elmer Miguel similarly said he celebrates with his family. However, his family’s annual barbecue on The Mesa couldn’t happen this year, so he wound up staying at home after working from noon to 8:30 p.m. at the Starbucks on De La Guerra Street and State Street. However, when he got home, there was a double reason to celebrate, as the holiday also turned out to be his housemate’s birthday. They wound up playing board games and listening to the fireworks outside.
Though Santa Barbara didn’t have its annual fireworks display by the waterfront this year due to COVID-19, local resident Marie Dorothy Powell remarked that she was surprised at how many fireworks she heard and saw on Saturday. So surprised in fact, that she thought setting off fireworks had been made legal in Santa Barbara.
“They were wonderful… I found out the next day they weren’t sanctioned, but I thought it was wonderful,” she said.