Home Brentwood City of Brentwood July 4th Parade in Limbo

City of Brentwood July 4th Parade in Limbo

by ECT

After announcing last week that the City of Brentwood would host a July 4th parade, the Brentwood City Council has put the event in limbo after a special city council meeting on Tuesday.

The council took up the item after staff sent out the release announcing the event before the council could weigh in which some on the council said put them in a tough spot.

During the nearly 90-minute discussion, the council shared concerns about a parade causing a new spike in the community while sharing safety concerns while seeking options from cancelling the event, modifying the event or seeking other alternatives.  Ultimately, the council did not cancel the event, but provided staff with direction to bring back at their next council meeting on June 8.

According to the Contra Costa Health Services dashboard, Brentwood has 47-active cases in the past 14-days which is an average of 3.3 cases per day.

On Tuesday, Bruce Mulder, Director of Parks & Recreation, explained to the council that staff was working to bring back community events in a “safe, responsible and feasible” manner which included a modified 4th of July Parade while emphasizing mask wearing and capacity.

Measures include:

  • Children’s parade and festivals at city park have been removed from the event (anticipating smaller crowds)
  • Last should not last longer than 2-hours
  • Emphasis to wear masks for attendance at parade – including pre-registration to sign up for placement for viewing
  • Marketing materials will include expectations, safety guidelines
  • Parade route is long with three announcer tables to sit along entire route
  • Participants will be kept more than 6 feet apart
  • Participants not allowed to pass things to audience – such as candy
  • Contingencies should state and county guidelines change – if guidelines do change, they could just cancel the parade.

According to Mulder, five cities including Brentwood in Contra Costa County are moving forward with events—Antioch, Orinda, Pleasant Hill and San Ramon. He said 9 cities cancelling their events while Concord will have a modified drive-in for fireworks.

“Staff is confident that we have a plan and appropriate plan that meets state and county guidelines, but understand that the city council and public may have safety concerns,” said Mulder who said they could still add in additional safety measures.

Councilwoman Karen Rarey said she spoke with Teresa Gerringer at Supervisor Diane Burgis office and said Orinda had already cancelled their event while Danville also cancelled their event. She continued saying City of Oakley and City of Pittsburg had cancelled their fireworks while Piedmont and Danville cancelled their parades. She corrected staff by saying City of Antioch isn’t technically doing the event, its an outside organization in Celebrate Antioch Foundation.

“My concern here is we are just getting out of this. I don’t understand why we can’t wait an entire year to let us get through this. We are going to have two other parades this year if it all goes right,” stated Rarey. “We have homecoming coming up and we have the holiday parade. So we do have two parades so the community can come out. Just give us some time to really get over this and get more people vaccinated and really make sure we are not going to shut our community down again and close down businesses.”

Rarey said she was concerned they would cause a spike in the numbers because they jumped into this too fast.

Councilmember Susannah Meyer said she had a lot of mixed feelings about this as Brentwood had historically been a mix of people who were following mask mandates and those who were not.

“I am a bit nervous about our ability to enforce the masking and social distancing,” said Meyer. “In a perfect world we would be able to hold this but I am not convinced that it is safe to do so.”

Mulder explained they could work out a registration process on the route and people could be assigned locations to watch the parade and keep crowd control.

Meyer suggested they expand the route of the parade to ensure more people are spread out and greater social distancing could occur. Mulder said they would look at that if needed.

Councilwoman Jovita Mendoza scolded staff explaining part of their job on the council was health and safety of residents and requested what analytics were used to determine this was in the public’s best interest when it came to their health.

Mulder responded saying they looked at both the State and County guidelines that said after June 15 they could begin opening up and this type of event was appropriate to bring back—but did say they did not have any analytics.

Mendoza expressed concern in managing the crowd along with safety precautions for staff.

“I like the idea of a reverse parade,” said Mendoza who explained residents would drive in the car and the floats are on the side. “Why did we choose for a traditional parade that is less safe than something like a reverse parade?”

Staff explained they looked at it and they tried it at Hometown Halloween but the problem with the reverse parade is the amount of time it takes for entrants to get through the route—it could take many hours and then you are dealing with the heat.

Mendoza said she was in favor with a reverse parade or holding off.

Vice Mayor Johnny Rodriquez asked how many people in Brentwood have been vaccinated. Mendoza chimed in saying 50.6% while herd immunity is at 70%.

Rodriquez asked if they were seeing any type of increase at hospitals or cases in Brentwood. Mendoza again chimed in stating they had one death in Brentwood this week while they average 3 positive cases a day and its not going down.

Rodriquez then asked how many people attend the Brentwood Farmers Market each week. Staff replied in excess to what they would expect at the parade (2,500 – 3,000) but they are not there the whole time.

Rarey argued that the farmers market has people going from stand to stand and not sitting next to one another for up to two hours or taking their masks off. She said even without a kids parade, families will still come down and the kids were the ones not vaccinated right now.

“I don’t know why we can’t push this off for a year. We have two parades coming up later this year. Its colder and more people will be vaccinated and give our community a chance,” said Rarey.  “I think we are setting ourselves up to have a spike in our community and then shutting down businesses again. I would really hate to see that especially since we are getting to the point where we can open up.”

Rodriguez argued why they could have certain events like a farmers’ market with people going booth to booth, eating/drinking, visiting businesses which makes this is giant combination of things but couldn’t have one event for a certain amount of hours with staff assisting to make it as safe as possible.

Mendoza called it a “big leap” from a Farmers Market to a July 4th Parade calling it a false equivalency.

“One, people are stationary shoulder to shoulder. The other one they are in constant movement,” explained Mendoza who said people walk in with their mask but they are not shoulder to shoulder and didn’t stand there with people breathing all over them. “2,500 people from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm is different than having them all there for a parade. It’s a false equivalency and I don’t think we should be comparing the two and its comparing apples to oranges.”

During council discussion, Rarey explained she has the position she has on the parade being held off was because the CDC is not recommending parades which was one of the least safe activities in the red tier—especially for those not vaccinated.

Meyer chiming in stating staff had put the council in a bad position here and it bothered her and found out other cities in this position are waiting for these types of decisions to go through parks and recreation and the council before making public announcements.

“The fact this is now being discussed in this way with people getting upset on both sides with every right to do so. I feel like we didn’t follow protocol,” said Meyer. “We need to make sure we are doing this right… before making such a decision public. So forgive me for being a little upset about this to. I understand both sides and feel caught in the middle… I do resent being put in this position because someone on staff did not want to follow what should have been a very clear process and done correctly.”

She continued saying she was disappointed that the community was set up with this high expectation and to potentially be crashing them down with this and its on the council shoulders.

Mendoza said she was also upset and accused certain individuals in the community of lobbying members of the councilmembers to make this happen along with certain city staff.

“I do feel people gave in to being lobbied. That is unfortunate because your first thing should be public health and safety versus who you would make upset and who you would make happy,” stated Mendoza.

Mendoza relayed comments she heard from parents that if this parade keeps their kids from going to school at the end of July she would never hear the end of it and their fear was because there was so many children it would impact the COVID rates among kids. She also said volunteer nurses were “appalled” when they heard Brentwood was having a parade.

“They felt like it was irresponsible for the city of Brentwood to do this,” said Mendoza. “I have to agree with them given the study we received this morning from a nurse who noted the contraction rate of covid among non-vaccinated is way higher than when it was a general population because the people who are vaccinated are going out.”

Mendoza reiterated she did not feel safe with a standard parade and urged to find something to work for Brentwood.

Mayor Joel Bryant highlighted his experience with COVID-19 and he takes it very seriously but noted the mask mandate would be enforced and said people had free will.

“Those that absolutely do not feel comfortable with this absolutely have the free will not to participate in this and would highly recommend anyone not comfortable participating in this to not do so,” said Bryant. “I firmly believe our staff has the ability to keep this safe as possible. Mitigating risk is our individual responsibilities. Everyone of us face risks we can mitigate and some that we can’t every single day of our lives so I believe in the process of this we can accomplish this parade in a fashion that can be as safe as possible and align with the orders by the county and the recommendation of the CDC.”

Bryant called this the 4th of July and the celebration of freedom from tyranny and just Monday they celebrated the veterans on Memorial Day.

“I think this has a significance that other parades may not have,” stated Bryant. “We do this to honor those that have brought those liberties to us and we can find a way to do it safely… I am confident we can do something for our community.”

Meyer understood Bryant’s comments to persist through the process for the parade but the parade in its current form was not a good idea and there are ideas for other style parades or events that could work. She urged the council to wait and make a decision later after June 15th to see what the County and State say or make a decision at their next meeting.

“I don’t want to get rid of it Mayor, I really don’t. I feel that our situation with mental health and people feeling isolated is significant but its also a significant health risk and I want to make sure we are doing it right and only later find out we made a significant mistake,” said Meyer. “To be honest, I’ve gone back and forth based on what people have said. But did have concerns about people coming from out of town and just walking in.”

She said she was concerned over safely controlling the crowd and out of towners who will come from everywhere.

Mendoza agreed but responded the mayors comment on personal responsibility.

“Mitigating the risk of personal responsibility. That is why we were elected, to take on certain responsibilities for our residents,” said Mendoza. “Yes, a lot of people could choose to go down there but we all know how COVID works, other people are going to catch it.”

Mendoza said this could turn into a big issue for the schools this fall and urged staff to go back and work on this to create something safer for the community.

Rodriquez stated he trusted staff’s vision for a safe and successful event—such as the Halloween event.

“We have done our due diligence in following the state and county guidelines given to us where now they are telling us we can do certain things and I don’t know how were not looking at possibly doing that with the staff oversight. I feel its something we can move forward with as long as things are done safely,” stated Rodriquez.

Bryant said they needed to do something for the community to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Rarey confirmed with staff this was “only” the fourth 4th of July parade.

“This is not something we have been doing for a very long time unlike homecoming. People have been celebrating this at their homes forever, going to the fireworks in Antioch or the Concord Pavilion or wherever they go to watch fireworks,” said Rarey. “We all celebrate the 4th of July in our own way, a parade is just one more thing that is going.”

Rarey again stated her concerns with crowd management along with people who just show up with kids who will be upset of not seeing the parade. Or the parade participants and could they actually enforce social distancing.

“I don’t know how we are going to limit the out-of-town people who are just going to show up,” explained Rarey. “I think we really need to think through this or do what Pleasant Hill is doing and bring the parade to residents and drive through neighborhoods rather than bringing massive amounts of people downtown to possibly spike our community with another covid outbreak and then what do we have to do when those businesses have to shutdown again.”

She suggested that staff bring this back with more options at the next meeting.

Staff said they would look at the following:

  • Extending the route of the parade to spread people out
  • Changing the parade route
  • Look at the option of having the parade inside the football field for crowd control
  • A reverse parade
  • Possibly moving it from the morning to the night
  • Look at the Pleasant Hill Model – driving parade through neighborhood
  • Pre-registration & assigned seating areas (think Disneyland)

Mendoza motioned for the item to be brought back at the next council meeting to find an option for the Fourth of July. Council would look at the logistics and look at that.

At this time, the application process is still open with the understanding it may not happen—possibly changing the term from parade to “event”.

 

Application

Parade applications are available through June 25 at https://bit.ly/brentwood4th2021 . Registration is free. There will be three separate judging areas along the parade route where groups can stop and perform. Groups will be judged in the following categories: Overall 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place, Most Patriotic, Best Performance, and Most Creative.

Due to increased safety measures, the Children’s Parade and the Celebration in City Park will not be held this year, but we encourage attendees to support local business after the parade concludes.

Per California Department of Health (click here)

Limited Exceptions for Mega Events:

Mega Events are characterized by large crowds greater than 5,000 (indoors) and 10,000 (outdoors) attendees.  Mega Events may have either assigned or unassigned seating, and may be either general admission or gated, ticketed and permitted events.

Mega Events are considered higher risk for COVID transmission because:

    • Participants and attendees are spending extensive periods of time physically close to large numbers of people they don’t usually interact with.
    • The frequency and total duration of close contact between attendees is increased, thereby increasing the risk that respiratory particles will be transmitted between attendees and participants.
    • They draw from beyond the nearby community and will often draw attendees and participants from other states and countries who may be infected with more infectious COVID variants.
    • Effective contact tracing may be difficult given the number of potential uncontrolled mixing between groups and attendees and the nature of the events.
  • For Indoor Mega Events (example: conventions/conferences/expos/sporting events and concerts):
    • In addition to the general public health recommendations:
      • Verification of fully vaccinated status** or pre-entry negative test* result is required of all attendees.
      • Information will be prominently placed on all communications, including the reservation and ticketing systems, to ensure guests are aware of testing and vaccination requirements (including acceptable modes of verification).
      • Attendees must follow CDPH Guidance for Face Coverings.
  • For Outdoor Mega Events (example: music or food festivals/car shows/large endurance events and marathons/parades/sporting events and concerts):
    • In addition to the general public health recommendations:
      • Verification of fully vaccinated status or pre-entry negative test result is strongly recommended for all attendees. Attendees who do not verify vaccination status should be asked to wear face coverings.
      • Attendees must follow CDPH Guidance for Face Coverings.
      • Information will be prominently placed on all communications, including the reservation and ticketing systems, to ensure guests are aware that the State strongly recommends  that they be fully vaccinated, obtain a negative COVID-19 test prior to attending the event, or wear a face covering.
      • Venues are required to make available masks for all attendees.
  • Additional recommendations for sponsors of Mega Events:
    • Encourage everyone to get vaccinated when eligible.
    • Facilitate increased ventilation of indoor spaces (i.e., open all windows and doors to increase natural air flow), following current CDPH and CalOSHA guidance.
    • Encourage everyone to sign up for CA Notify as an added layer of protection for themselves and the community to receive alerts when they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
    • Convey the risk of attending large crowded events where the vaccine status of others in attendance may be unknown to the individuals.
    • Convey the risk of attending large crowded events for populations that may not currently be eligible for vaccination, or may be immunocompromised and whose vaccine protection may be incomplete.
    • Encourage all venues along any parade or event route to provide outdoor spaces for eating/drinking/congregating to reduce the risk of transmission in indoor settings.

The requirements and recommendations for negative testings / vaccine verification will be in place effective June 15, 2021 through October 1, 2021. The state will assess conditions by September 1, 2021, to determine whether updated requirements or recommendations are needed beyond October 1, 2021.

CDPH will continue to provide updated guidance for youth, healthcare and high-risk congregate settings.

* Pre-entry negative testing

  1. Definition: Testing must be conducted within 72 hours before event start time (both PCR and antigen are acceptable). Results of the test must be available prior to entry into the event or venue.
  2. Verification: The following are acceptable as proof of a negative COVID-19 test result: printed document (from the test provider or laboratory) OR an email or text message displayed on a phone from the test provider or laboratory. The information should include person’s name, type of test performed, and negative test result (date of test must be within prior 72 hours). Businesses and venue operators may also utilize self-attestation at point of registration, during ticket purchase or on the day of the event prior to entry into the venue.

** Fully vaccinated

  1. Definition: See current CDPH Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Persons for definitions, acceptable vaccines, and updates on additional vaccines as they are approved.
  2. Verification: The following are acceptable as proof of full vaccination: Vaccination card (which includes name of person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided and date last dose administered) OR a photo of a vaccination card as a separate document OR a photo of the attendee’s vaccine card stored on a phone or electronic device OR documentation of vaccination from a healthcare provider.  Businesses and venue operators may also utilize self-attestation at point of registration, during ticket purchase or on the day of the event prior to entry into the venue.
Originally Published on May 21, 2021

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1 comment

Ray Jun 2, 2021 - 10:04 pm

Nice…first Brentwood screwed up CornFest now The Forth Of July. Frickin Snowflakes

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