Supporting the Spirit of the Palisades on July 4

The Fourth of July is a glorious day in Pacific Palisades, but it takes a lot of volunteers and a lot of money to stage the three highlight events.

As we know, the day’s festivities start in front of the Recreation Center with flags flying and the singing of the National Anthem before the traditional Palisades-Will Rogers 5/10K Run.

The pace car leads nearly 3,000 runners through the Huntington, down Sunset and up through Will Rogers State Park (for the 10K) and back to Alma Real. Active-duty military members run for free and veterans are given special consideration—for their service in keeping our freedoms intact.

The parade at 2 p.m., launched by the skydiving team that lands on Sunset at Swarthmore, celebrates community and freedom of speech. People sit with family and friends along the parade route, watching a stream of marching bands, community leaders, Patriotic Pups and Kids on Bikes. We celebrate our rights as citizens to assemble peacefully and we unite in our belief that all should be treated equally.

In the evening, a name band performs at the Palisades High stadium, before the sky erupts with fireworks provided by Pyro Spectaculars by Souza—the same company that creates Macy’s fireworks show in New York.

It is a costly day to be sure. The Will Rogers Run costs close to $150,000 to stage, including the cost of insurance, city and state permits, fees for police and the Department of Transportation personnel, toilets, barricades/cones, registration, timing, medals and scaffolding.

“We see it as synergist event,” said race organizer Thomas Hathaway. “We have sponsorships, and local businesses can promote and advertise to 3,000 local affluent decision makers.”

Runners who don’t pay the entry fee are freeloaders—and the community suffers, because the net proceeds are donated to the Palisades Optimist Club and they in turn make grants to numerous local organizations, schools and nonprofits.

The parade, organized by the Palisades Americanism Parade Association (PAPA), costs close to $60,000, which includes parade participant fees for bands, marching units, vehicles and horses; banners and grandstands; insurance; various permits; toilets; barricades; cleanup and other expenses that all add up.

There is no registration fee to help cover the cost of this “free” parade. PAPA is building a “rainy day fund,” but basically must start from scratch every year to pay for everything. If everyone who enjoys the parade would send a small donation to PAPA (either by mail to P.O. Box 1776, or online at, volunteers wouldn’t have to work so hard to raise money. Another painless way to help: the $1, $5 and $10 donation coupons at Gelson’s checkout stations.

The costs for the fireworks show and the world-class concert are considerable—the fireworks alone are $24,000—but fortunately PAPA is now able to raise money with a nominal entrance fee and paid parking. Sponsorship opportunities are also available, by contacting Keith Turner at

If you still remain hesitant about supporting PAPA with a donation, here’s another perspective to consider.

The Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and nominated five men—John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston—to work on a draft of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson was delegated to write the Declaration, and Adams and Benjamin Franklin made many revisions before it was finally submitted to Congress on June 28, 1776. The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776 and signed by the President of the Continental Congress, John Hancock.

Not everyone signed the document. But 56 men did so, even though they knew they could be put to death for treason. Considered a moral document, the Declaration of Independence laid the foundation for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

It is important to celebrate the courage of those 56 men in laying the foundation for our freedoms, and it is important to celebrate the birthday of this nation. As John Adams said: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” We must always remember the whys of our country’s founding and keep this democracy strong.

In that spirit, Pacific Palisades has hundreds of people who volunteer their time and skills every year to make sure we have a Will Rogers Run and a parade, a concert and a fireworks show. Nobody gets paid. “We do this as a labor of love for the community,” Thomas Hathaway said.

The least we can do, as residents in this community, is to give back.

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