By Mary O’KEEFE
The economy extinguished many Fourth of July fireworks celebrations across the country but in La Crescenta the night sky once again was ablaze with the traditional red, white and blue sparklers.
“It is a good family time,” said Christian Pablico.
Pablico watched as his wife Rowena helped put a temporary Prom Plus tattoo on daughter Rowen Santos’ face.
Family, friends and small town community were what the Crescenta Valley Fourth of July celebration was all about. As people walked onto Prospect Avenue they first saw the large slide that had a continuous line of sliders waiting for their turn. Then cotton candy and sno cones were the next thing in sight. As people walked down the hill and onto the La Crescenta Elementary School grounds they were greeted with carnival rides including a Ferris wheel. No one went hungry with booths that offered pizza from the CV Chamber of Commerce, tacos from Los Gringos Rapidos and hamburgers grilled to perfection by the Kiwanis.
The school’s field was lined with lawn chairs and blankets where people that never knew each other at the beginning of the day were old friends by the time the first fireworks burst in the sky.
Four-year-old Alec Rodriguez was having the time of this life riding a blue fish in a continuous circle. To him this was a great adventure.
“Yes,” he answered when asked if he liked the ride. “But I want to go on the one where you go up then down [add in 4-year-old sound effects of squeals and dive bombing] and then you are back up.”
“He is really having fun,” said mom Amy Heck.
As is the tradition of the event, the focus never leaves what the Fourth represents – America’s independence. U.S. Marine Travis Scott, a CVHS 2008 graduate, said hello to the crowd – his hometown. He had just returned from a tour in Afghanistan and will be leaving again soon ready for his next deployment.
First Lt. Simone Luca, U.S. Army, a CVHS 2000 graduate, took the podium. She had returned from a tour of Iraq. Before she spoke, Luca and her family had a chance to walk around the field and meet old friends and neighbors.
“It’s wonderful to be home. I hadn’t realized how many people in La Crescenta had served (in the military),” she said.
When asked what was the best thing about being in the army, Luca said, “To serve my country. “
During her speech she spoke about returning from Iraq and the people that were there t greet her.
“The most important thing to me was a Vietnam vet who thanked me personally for my service and I thought this individual had true greatness of character to welcome me home in a way he was not welcomed,” she said.
She ended by quoting President Woodrow Wilson. “Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American. America is the only idealistic nation in the world.”
CVHS students Rebecca and Tracey Thomas and Madelyn Brown issued the fireworks show in with a perfect rendition of the National Anthem.
“We have been practicing a lot,” Rebecca said.
The hard work was obvious as the crowd cheered their flawless performance.
Then music filled the air and sparklers filled the sky.
About 5,000 people attended the event at the school with thousands of others outside the event that also watched the show. For those who chose not to go to the event Pacific Outdoor Living, a strong supporter of the fireworks celebration, opened their doors a Fourth of July party. And as is tradition in Crescenta Valley, the street, sidewalks and parking lots along Foothill Boulevard were lined with cars and people all looking skyward.
Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson, the pyrotechnic expert, set off the first blast and the crowd cheered.
“This was the best fireworks show I have ever been to,” said Michael Ridlon who was visiting from Sierra Vista, AZ. He said the hometown feel added to the Fourth celebration. “And the music with the fireworks. It all just worked.”