Costa Mesa City Councilman John Stephens cut right to the chase this week when asked whether he’s secured sufficient funding commitments to realize his vision for a local Fourth of July celebration.
“Party on,” he said.
As of Friday morning, Stephens said he has obtained enough pledges and donations to cover the estimated $50,000 cost of the Independence Day bash, which will take place at the OC Fair & Event Center.
“Now the focus is on creating a wonderful experience for whoever comes,” the councilman said. “That’s our commitment.”
Stephens pitched the idea last month in response to local complaints and concerns over the use of illegal fireworks. A city-sponsored, centralized celebration, he said, would promote public safety.
His council colleagues voted unanimously on April 18 to move forward with the event — but only if Stephens could raise enough money by May 15 to foot the bill.
Dan Baker, assistant to City Manager Tom Hatch, confirmed Friday that Stephens “does have enough in commitments to move forward.”
“The city is on track to satisfy the requirements for the event, and we are working on a daily basis with the fairgrounds and their vendors to make all the arrangements for the event to take place,” Baker said.
Though he’s hit the magic number, Stephens said he’s continuing to seek donations to enhance the event. Any money that’s left over, he added, will be donated to local youth sports and veteran groups.
“You can address a public safety concern and at the same time have an opportunity to display civic pride and patriotism and respect for our veterans,” he said. “How can somebody not be enthusiastic about that?”
As envisioned, the event will begin at about 3 p.m. on the Fourth and include entertainment and concessions. It will culminate that night with a pyrotechnics display using devices that offer the visual spectacle of fireworks but without the usual noise.
Attendees will also be able to visit the Heroes Hall veterans museum.
Though Stephens said he couldn’t yet disclose everyone who has donated to the event, he and Baker both said the Los Angeles Chargers are among its supporters.
The National Football League franchise is currently developing a new headquarters and practice facility in Costa Mesa and will also hold its summertime training camp at the city’s Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex.
A representative from the Chargers could not be reached for comment Friday.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also pledged to contribute $5,000 for the event last month, so long as the city agreed to use fireworks that wouldn’t fill the night with loud explosions.
Miguel’s Jr., a Mexican food franchise with locations in Costa Mesa and throughout Southern California, donated $1,500 for the event, according to Chief Executive Javier Vasquez.
“Costa Mesa has always been good to us and we felt that this would be a good opportunity to give back to the community,” Vasquez said Friday.
Looking ahead, Baker, Stephens and city staff will continue to work with representatives from the Fair & Event Center, the Orange County Market Place and Spectra, the fairgrounds' concessionaire, to hammer out the logistics for the event.
“They see the value in giving back to the community and being a community partner,” Baker said.
Another major focus will be making sure people know about the event. While the city plans to do some marketing, Stephens said he’ll pound the pavement himself to drum up interest.
“I’m literally going to go to people’s doors and knock on them and personally invite them,” he said. “We’re going to make this a great event.”