It is terribly unfortunate that the wildfires and resulting devastation in Southern California were occurring at the same time the Americana at Brand held its first spectacular tree lighting and accompanying pyrotechnics display (“Fiery display riles council,” Nov. 19).

Admittedly, the timing wasn’t the best. However, in defense of the Caruso Affiliated management team, they went the extra mile to ensure an absolutely safe display that, with the agreement of the Fire Department, posed absolutely no danger to the area and its surroundings.

There’s no way they could have known the extent of the fires that would be burning outside of Glendale that night.

In terms of city support, the tree lighting did not receive any special treatment beyond what other major gatherings receive in the city. According to Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, our fire stations were fully staffed, as well as deploying additional personnel to fires where they were needed in the region.

Certainly, a decision had to be made by the Caruso management team whether the pyrotechnics display would go on as scheduled. The event was months in the planning, had the proper permits from the city — and an estimated 25,000 visitors were crowded into the Americana for the show.

And, we’re told, many latecomers were turned away because of space restrictions. Some people, including our mayor and City Council members (who were in attendance enjoying the evening), have since criticized the pyrotechnics display as “dumb-headed” and our Fire Department as “insensitive” to those experiencing loss due to the fires.

I disagree. The Caruso Affiliated management team did consider its options, and under the circumstances, decided to proceed with the pyrotechnics. The response by those attending was incredibly positive.

I extend our thanks at the Chamber of Commerce to Rick Caruso and the Americana management team for staging and paying for a spectacular event that brought thousands of people to the Americana at Brand and our city.

Certain City Council members should apologize to Caruso and his team for their inappropriate criticism. They could have shown greater understanding and empathy for those residents who expressed concern about the safety of the pyrotechnics while publicly supporting Caruso Affiliated and our Fire Department at last week’s council meeting.

Caruso Affiliated has created a beautiful, vibrant retail, dining and residential center in what once was a crime-infested, blighted area of Glendale, which brought embarrassment to the chamber and surrounding businesses and many challenges for the Glendale Police Department. Glendale and almost every city in our country need all the business they can attract and every opportunity possible to bring people together in a positive environment during this time of economic turmoil.

 JUDEE KENDALL is a Glendale resident and the executive director of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.

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