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‘Congratulations, La Jolla’: Merchants association hosts ribbon-cutting to celebrate state’s reopening

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria cuts a ribbon along with several new La Jolla business owners in a June 15 ceremony.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria cuts a ribbon along with several new La Jolla business owners in a June 15 ceremony celebrating local merchants who opened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Amid balloons, music and a red carpet, the La Jolla Village Merchants Association held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the 39 businesses that opened in The Village during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The festivities — which included a visit from San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, plus raffle prizes, refreshments and informational booths hosted by some of the new businesses — took place June 15, the day California ended most COVID-related mandates on masks and gatherings.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said "our small local businesses … need us more than ever."
(Elisabeth Frausto)

After cutting the ribbon, Gloria said he was “really happy” to see business start to return to usual. “As we start to leave our homes and start to redo things as we have done in the past, it’s really important to center our small local businesses … [that] need us more than ever,” he said.

“We are today in a position where we can reopen our economy, we can get our kids back to school this fall, we can make sure that we’re on the path to economic resurgence. That’s all because so many of you followed the public health order and then when it became time, you got vaccinated.”

“As we move forward,” he added, “I ask you to really consider the ways you can invest here in the neighborhood. When you shop local, you’re supporting those who support our community.”

He reminded people to “practice patience and extend a lot of grace” to others as masking requirements fall away. “We will get through this next phase successfully.”

With California dropping its COVID-19 tier system and most mask requirements, many local businesses and organizations say guests won’t have to mask up but some pandemic practices will remain for now.

Village Merchants Association President Cody Decker told the crowd that June 15 was “a very meaningful day to a lot of us, not only to the businesses that reopened during this economy … but to everyone in La Jolla who has struggled and persevered throughout this [pandemic].”

Persevering, Decker later told the La Jolla Light, resulted from local business owners being “so invested already emotionally. And now physically, they have to see it through. I think it’s the spirit of entrepreneurship in all of us.”

LJVMA Executive Director Jodi Rudick welcomes the 39 Village businesses that opened during the pandemic.
La Jolla Village Merchants Association Executive Director Jodi Rudick welcomes the 39 Village businesses that opened during the pandemic.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

LJVMA Executive Director Jodi Rudick told the Light that opening a business during a pandemic and staying open “is probably almost unfathomable. … It has been such a challenging year, but for so many of our merchants, it was a time for them to rethink business models. ... When you’re forced to do that, amazing things can happen.”

After a champagne toast to the businesses that opened during COVID-19, Rudick told those in attendance that the day was meant “to honor all of you who have come together to add your name, your brands to [The] Village over the past 18 months or so.”

“Congratulations, La Jolla,” she said.

Mayor Todd Gloria chats with Annalena Dickman (left) and Casey Charland of Balanced Fitness & Health on Girard Avenue.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria chats with Annalena Dickman (left) and Casey Charland of Balanced Fitness & Health on Girard Avenue.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The ceremony felt “wonderful” to Lisa Harrison, whose clothing store Be Boutique opened this spring on Ivanhoe Avenue. She hosted her own ribbon-cutting for the boutique after the LJVMA event, inviting maskless shoppers with wine and coupons.

American Pizza Mfg. owner Andrew Melone said seeing “people out, being social and normal, is so refreshing. It just feels so special that our community can band together like this, support each other.”

Jen Pham, who owns Saigon Spring Jewelry on Fay Avenue, said the ribbon-cutting made her feel “that we belong. It’s very emotional. … We felt so invisible during the whole pandemic. Today is amazing.” ◆