In lieu of further assisting the traditional Crescenta Valley Fireworks show, the City Council asked for city staff to explore partnering with another organization to try producing an Independence Day fireworks show that would be in or near downtown Glendale.
Whether the city can make it happen is another story, as a specific location remained undetermined, as did the ability for it to even locate a vendor who isn’t booked for the national holiday. Still, they will try to make it work, likely with help from the Downtown Glendale Association or another unnamed organization suggested by Councilman Ara Najarian.
“I would much rather see that to be done in an area where people from around the city can get there, maybe by walking or looking outside their window,” he said Tuesday. “As you know, the downtown area is very highly populated.”
Najarian found support from everyone except for Councilman Ardy Kassakhian, who wanted to help continue the 14-year fireworks tradition at Crescenta Valley High School. The city already had committed its usual $5,000 donation, and was considering on Tuesday whether to help the fireworks organization bridge its funding gap of another $25,000 to help offset being unable to hold its usual in-person activities and generate a revenue stream.
“I appreciate the interest or the desire to have a fireworks show in downtown, but I think this is also about supporting some of our community organizations that are struggling, that want to be able to continue,” Kassakhian said.
Najarian, however, balked at using more city funding for an operation that takes place outside of the city, particularly since the current plan is to broadcast the show through a livestream instead of having people at the school watching it as they usually do. The organization had received $1,000 in support from state Sen. Anthony Portantino, and is working with Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger on potential additional funds.
“I know the issue before us is not where to do it, but I can represent to you that I’ve spoken with two entities who are willing to partner with the city to do fireworks in the downtown Glendale vicinity, which I think would be seen by a much wider audience than Crescenta Valley High School,” Najarian said, “and would potentially bring some economic activity to brand and to surrounding areas.
“I think the Crescenta Valley location is remote for most of the people in Glendale. Watching it on YouTube? You might as well tune in to the National Mall if you want to see fireworks. I mean, they do fireworks,” he added, emphasizing the last sentence.
Speaking ad hoc, Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas said he believed a fireworks show in downtown could be viable because the nature of the high-rise structures there offer them the necessary protection from the projectiles, whereas there are restrictions in more residential areas. While emphasizing that he’d yet to do the research, he speculated that a parking structure like that at the Americana at Brand might be a suitable location for it.
Having a show closer to the city’s population center, Lanzas added, might also have the added effect of dissuading individuals from illegally launching their own fireworks in their neighborhoods, as is a notorious Los Angeles-area predilection.
Kassakhian pushed back against the protectionist notion of withholding support from an already-planned event simply because it was just beyond the city’s border — he noted that CVHS has been part of the Glendale Unified School District, and the city overlaps in many respects with the unincorporated La Crescenta area.
“It’s something that’s been a community tradition,” he added. “I understand the concerns that it may not be in the proper boundaries of Glendale, but I know many people who go up to that show every year — including myself and my family. A lot of people come out to see it. It’s not just the folks from Tujunga or La Cañada.”
Although Kassakhian introduced a motion to fund the Crescenta Valley Fireworks show, Najarian successfully curbed that with a substitute motion to have the city develop its own program, thanks to support from Councilman Dan Brotman.
“For me, it’s Glendale first,” Najarian said, evoking a recent political catchphrase and using Independence Day as a backdrop. “We’ll help our downtown retailers and provide some life in an area where people don’t have open spaces to enjoy who are deprived of basic entertainment.
“How’s that? It’s my turn for some jingoism,” he quipped after his pitch.
Mayor Paula Devine, while extending her respect to the Crescenta Valley organization and its planners, nevertheless supported Najarian’s motion and added, “we’re always fighting for South Glendale and here’s our chance to do something big for South Glendale so they can enjoy fireworks like they haven’t, most of them.”