WATSONVILLE—If everything goes right, Independence Day will feature the first citywide in-person celebration in Watsonville since the start of the pandemic.
That’s according to Watsonville Parks and Community Service Department Director Nick Calubaquib, who says that the city is planning to hold a “static” parade and bring back its Music in the Plaza summer concert series on Fourth of July weekend—in a static parade participants stay in place while people drive or walk by their displays.
That would be the first of three celebrations planned for the city’s summer event series. In August, the annual Strawberry Festival will return, and in September Watsonville Municipal Airport will host a slimmed down version of its annual Fire In The Sky fireworks and open house showcase.
“This summer, we will be hosting a summer event series the first weekend of the months of July, August and September, that will consist of smaller but mighty versions of some of our traditional events,” Calubaquib said in an email.
Of course, those plans could ultimately change depending on what state-mandated Covid-19 restrictions are in place later this year. But with Gov. Gavin Newsom last month setting June 15 as California’s official reopening date, city staff are moving forward with their planned modified celebrations and staying nimble to accommodate for any needed changes, Calubaquib said.
“Our plans for events for the rest of the year are continuing to shift with Covid guidelines and we are anxiously waiting to hear more about what ‘open’ means for events after [June 15],” Calubaquib said.
Other events returning
Meanwhile, at the Pajaro Valley Historical Association (PVHA), Lou Arbanas said plans are now in motion for the return of their annual Vintage Picnic, an outdoor gathering set for July 3 that serves as a fundraiser for the association. The garden affair, which was iced last year due to the pandemic, will feature guest speakers, plenty of outdoor space for safe gathering and refreshments. It will serve as an arena for the community to reconnect after spending a year apart, Arbanas said.
“We’re excited to welcome speaker and historian Sandy Lydon who will talk about T.S. MacQuiddy, former school superintendent,” Arbanas said. “Lydon will also touch on the late Hal Hyde and explore the naming of Cabrillo College.”
A former instructor at Cabrillo College, Lydon is a well-known historian and educator.
Arbanas added that speaker Rob Robledo will explore Hudson Landing, Brennan Landing and the rarely heard of Pajaro Landing as well.
Monterey Bay Caterers will serve lunch under the canopy of historic oaks.
As for the county’s marquee event, the Santa Cruz County Fair, County Fairgrounds Manager Dave Kegebein said no decisions have been made about whether it will make its grand return this year. He said fairgrounds leadership will likely make an announcement about what the fair might look like in early June.
By then, Kegebein said, there might be a better understanding of what the new normal might be, and if running a smaller, altered version of the County Fair is financially feasible.
“Nothing is official, but I think we’re optimistic that we’re going to get there,” Kegebein said.
In the meantime, the city will host multiple socially distant events that gained popularity last year, including a “goodie drop” local graduating seniors.
For information about the city of Watsonville events, visit cityofwatsonville.org. For information about the Vintage Picnic, visit pajarovalleyhistory.org.