There were masked smiles all around as people gathered in Santa Clara’s Central Park on Aug. 21 for Celebrate Santa Clara, the first city-sponsored community event in more than a year.
The City planned the event with COVID-19 guidelines in mind. There were signs recommending masks and game booths for the kids were spaced far enough apart so that large crowds did not gather. Parents say they felt safe bringing their kids to the event.
“It’s outdoor and it’s time. It’s about time for kids to enjoy. We’ve been missing the events of the city. So, this has been like a comeback for us,” said Marie Dittz.
“We’re pretty excited about the bubbles,” said mom Abby Damm. “We’ve been a big fan of the bookmobile this summer. That was the initial draw. It’s great. The games, the food and everything…It’s great to be reminded what a vibrant city Santa Clara is.”
Community members say it was nice to have a chance to be around other members of the community. This was one of the first events for Santa Clara High School senior Sophia Rodriguez since she was crowned Miss Santa Clara’s Outstanding Teen in March 2020.
“It feels amazing. I’ve been waiting for everyone to talk to me and ask me questions and just really get to know the community,” said Rodriguez. “I’ve always been involved in the community. I used to always come to The Art and Wine Festival and everything like this. So, I know a lot of people but it’s always different to have your crown and sash on and get to talk to all these little girls and tell them your story.”
Rodriguez wasn’t the only one excited to get out in the community. The dancers in the City of Santa Clara’s Dance Team to take the stage in the Central Park Pavilion to loud applause. They showed the crowd the new routine they worked on over Zoom for the past 16 months.
“I’m over the moon because they have worked so hard,” said Dance Team Director Linnea Sheehy after the performance. “It’s so fun to watch them dance because my dancers aren’t competition dancers. We’re not that type of performance group. We’re a group that likes to perform. So, when you’re a performance group has no performance, it’s really a difficult situation. So, this is super exciting for us.”
Vendors were also happy for the opportunity to return to Santa Clara. Sandra Poole, the owner of Art Glass by Sandra, was glad to see a constant flow of people through the park.
“I am so thrilled. I haven’t been able to sell glass for a year and a half, and so it’s just so nice to be out. See people. See people smiling and be able to sell a little bit of my glass that I made,” said Poole.
Celebrate Santa Clara was a one-time event sponsored by the city as a mini Art and Wine Festival. So far, there are no announced plans yet to bring back popular events like the annual tree lighting.