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La Jolla turns Red, White and Blue in style

It’s nearly Fourth of July in the Jewel and La Jollans will be celebrating our nation’s birthday in red, white and blue, strutting their patriotic stuff in style.

The highest-profile event held in the community for many years continues to be the Fourth of July fireworks show at La Jolla Cove, now in its 23rd year.

The gala Independence Day celebration, staged by Fireworks America, starts promptly at 9 p.m. and lasts about 25 minutes, drawing thousands. Co-hosting the oceanfront fireworks display as always this year is La Jolla restaurateur George Hauer, who originated the event, and First Republic Bank.

Despite rising costs of staging the event, it’s become too big for the show not to go on, said Mark Oliver, a partner in the recently remodeled George’s At The Cove on Prospect Street. “Permit fees for using the (Scripps) park have gone up significantly,” said Oliver, “but we feel that it has now become a piece of the fabric of the community on the Fourth of July. It is just almost obligatory that someone step forward and sponsor it. No one is better prepared to do that than us, the fact we’ve been doing it for so many years. To help defray the cost, we’ve brought in a co-sponsor.”

The co-sponsor of the annual Independence Day blowout feels privileged to be a part of staging the communitywide celebration. “First Republic Bank is very proud to be sponsoring, for the fourth year with George’s At The Cove, this wonderful event that brings the whole community together,” said First Republic Bank’s district manager Fatema Arande. “It reflects the civic-minded spirit that makes La Jolla such a special place to live and work.”

Despite rising costs, it’s well worth the effort as the high-tech fireworks display gets more dazzling every year. Kevin Brueckner of Fireworks America, which stages the event each year, characterized it as something special.

“It’s one of the last old-fashioned venues,” Brueckner said, “a neighborhood thing that’s pretty intimate and romantic.”

As usual, Fireworks America promises a few surprises at this year’s display, which they said will showcase the latest in pyrotechnics.

Though unable to rival the Cove fireworks in sheer size and magnitude, the community spirit of homespun Fourth of July celebrations which have sprung up in La Jolla neighborhoods, is unparalleled.

The 28th annual 2007 Beaumont Avenue 4th of July celebration starting at 10 a.m. in Bird Rock has a socially conscious theme, celebrating earth and the environment, for this year’s patriotic event. “Red, white and blue is going green, that’s our theme,” said April Schug, one of 13 Bird Rock neighbors who plan and stage the neighborhood event each year, which involves a procession on foot begins at the corner of Beaumont Avenue and Camino de la Costa in Upper Hermosa, traveling a couple of blocks culminating behind the Methodist Church in the cul-de-sac on Mira Monte.

The Beaumont bash started out with one family in the Bird Rock neighborhood, Candace and Brian King, and a few close friends sitting on a curb watching their kids parading by on bikes decked out with crepe paper and baloons. In succeeding years, more and more neighbors joined the festivities, which expanded to include rudimentary floats. After 26 years, news of the event has grown so widespread that it was profiled in a national, New York-based magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, last year.

Though the heightened publicity has been great, Schug pointed out Beaumont Avenue neighbors want people to appreciate their Fourth of July celebration for what it is: something quaint, something do-it-yourself. “We kind of want to get back to basics,” she said. “The community spirit that’s there is just amazing. It’s amazing because it’s simple.”

The future of the Beaumont Fourth of July bash is bright. But, added Schug, it’s getting to be time for a changing of the guard. “We need help,” she said. “Everyone’s getting tired, our kids are getting older and we need to get more volunteers.”

No discussion of Fourth of July celebrations in the Jewel would be complete without mention of the Beach -Barber Tract parade begun by Max and Melissa Elliott in 1974. The Elliotts had just moved here from St. Louis, where they’d lived in an old and very active neighborhood. “I took the idea for a parade from our old neighborhood,” said Melissa. “The first one we did was about 10 kids and some parents. It consisted of cookie tins with straps on them and chopsticks for drums and wagons with stuffed animals in them. Somebody’s kid had a bugle. Someone else had a pair of old, gold go-go boots they wore. It was just the neighborhood kids going around the block then through to White Sands Retirement Center. At the end, we ate watermelon and had lemonade. We sang ‘God Bless America’ before we left.”

The Beach-Barber Tract homegrown parade took off from there. Every year someone added something. “One year we had synchronized jam boxes that had Fourth of July music,” said Melissa Elliott.

But as with any party, there’s a responsibility on the part of those who celebrate to pick up after themselves. That message is something the Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Chapter, is trying to get out to Fourth of July revelers.

“We’ll be doing our ‘Morning After Mess’ cleanup along with Sun Diego Boardshops on July 5th from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at seven beaches along the coast including Tourmaline Beach,” said Ken David of the non-profit organization’s executive committee.

David said there are three things beachgoers can do to help with the Fourth of July morning-after cleanup. To minimize the amount of packaging and potential waste, take cans out of packs and put them in coolers. Bring food in reusable tupperware containers, and utilize the trash cans provided at the beaches. “Pack out what you pack in,” David said. “If the trash cans are full, at least bag it up and put it by the trash cans.”

The La Jolla Shores Surfing Association hosts a beach cleanup on July 5 between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. Volunteers will meet on the north end of the boardwalk. For more information, call Lorraine Schmalenberger at (858) 692-5235.