Food, fun, family and fireworks are what drew spectators, volunteers and vendors to the 12th annual Crescenta Valley Fourth of July fireworks celebration at Crescenta Valley High School on Wednesday.
Gates opened at 4 p.m. with early birds grabbing the best position on the Crescenta Valley High field to view the fireworks, along with first access to the inflatable bounce houses, gourmet food truck cuisine, face painting, games, a robotics display and live music.
Glassell Park resident Phillip Santos was part of a large caravan that included his wife, three children and friends.
“This is the second time we’ve been here, and, the last time we were here, which was three years ago, it was fun,” Santos said. “It’s like a carnival, with food trucks, stuff for the kids to do and the fireworks show.”
The festival and fireworks display were organized by the Crescenta Valley Fireworks Assn.
“You know it takes a lot to put together something like this,” said Robert Wollenweber, president of the fireworks association. “I saw on Facebook people looking for free fireworks, and I had to mention our event because it’s not easy to put this together.”
Along with financial help and donations from the community, volunteers from the American Legion, Veteran of Foreign Wars and the sheriff’s department also helped.
The difficulty of organizing such a spectacle was something understood firsthand by Los Angeles resident Krystl Valencia. The 15-year-old ventured to Crescenta Valley with her aunt, cousin and best friend after finding out that the Hansen Dam fireworks display was canceled.
“Went to a park, but they shut down the fireworks,” Valencia said.
She added it only took 11 minutes to reach Crescenta Valley from her home and that she was looking forward to the “bounce houses and fireworks.”
While there were games, such as a basketball-shooting contest hosted by the Crescenta Valley High School girls’ basketball program, there was also a large tent, where members of the Crescenta Valley High robotics team gave demonstrations of their prized robot named Galileo.
“I really like inspiring younger people and getting them interested in science,” Crescenta Valley incoming junior Shyla Summers said. “When I was younger, I played with Lego robots and that introduced me. Introducing younger kids and people, in general, to robotics is something I look forward to.”
Pasadena resident Nikia Jones was also hoping to make a splash at the festival, just in a different way.
Her Sun Valley-based Cravin’ Crab Cakes food truck was making its festival debut, and Jones was hoping to hit it big.
“This is my first time here, and I came because one of the guys who gets the trucks together just asked if I’d be interested, and I said ‘yes,’” Jones said. “Sometimes these events can be big pay days, but that’s not always the case. It can be hit or miss.”
Jones’ truck was one of six on-site. Others served pizza, Filipino food, wings or kebobs.
A sense of familiarity brought La Cañada Flintridge couple Tracee and Ryan Edwards back to La Crescenta with their two children for a second straight year.
“We liked the jump house, food and music, and it’s all fun and easy to get here,” Tracee Edwards said. “We enjoy the community.”
Comments such as those are what motivate Jean Maluccio, secretary of the Crescenta Valley Fireworks Assn., who began organizing the fireworks show for the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce back in 1990.
Maluccio estimated the association has to raise $45,000 annually to pay for the show, with $20,000 going just toward the fireworks display.
“It’s been challenging to put these shows on, and I don’t think the general public truly understands how much time, effort and money are needed,” Maluccio said. “But I love doing it.”