San Ramon's fireworks-free fourth of July has been pronounced a success, but the city is looking at ways that could bring back the aerial show for 2013.
In a report to City Council on Tuesday night, Karen McNamara, San Ramon's interim parks and community services director, said Central Park was full, with only a small group that came looking for fireworks. McNamara said that scaled-down event, which cost about a fourth of last year's event also provided a greater opportunity for people to watch the city's volunteer symphonic band.
"They had a very responsive audience," McNamara said, explaining that ordinarily, the band is a not one of the main features of the day.
Billed as Celebrate America, it offered a patriotic theme throughout, with Blue Star Moms and the Sentinels of Freedom giving people the opportunity to write notes to veterans and those on active duty. It also included a tribute to veterans, with Mayor Bill Clarkson calling members out to the stage for recognition.
"I thought that was a quite touching moment of the event," McNamara said.
She estimated that 2,000 people attended the show, which also included a performance by the band Pride and Joy, a local favorite.
The 2011 event drew 30,000 people, caused gridlock and strained police and fire resources. This year, there were few problems with traffic or scofflaws, Police Chief Scott Holder said.
"Inside the park, police necessity was pretty nil," Holder said. "As a city, for the entire day, there were no major events."
In fact, he said there were fewer calls for illegal fireworks than ever. Police received 214 calls for service on July 4, about double what it receives on an average day.
The event drew positive comments from a number of residents who attended, with a Blue Star Mom calling it "a fitting tribute" to members of the service, and another resident saying it gave San Ramon a "small town feel."
But fireworks could return next year if the money to pay for them and the additional police and fire services can be found. Two days have been set up to discuss the future of the city's Independence Day celebration, with the first this Saturday at 10 a.m. at the San Ramon Community Center and another set for September.
Among the possibilities that could be discussed is finding private funding to offset the cost, which was estimated at $318,000 for this year.