Re-posted from 2013
The 4th of July has been celebrated in La Mirada for over 120 of our Nation’s 237 years of existence. It could be longer; this is just what we have learned from documents found during research.
In the late nineteenth century, ranch hands on Andrew McNally’s Windermere Ranch enjoyed the Fourth of July by eating cut watermelon and resting underneath the shade of pepper trees.
La Mirada Blog Facebook fan Sharon Collins-Shepard recalls the first fireworks stands appearing in La Mirada in the late 1950’s, “I moved to La Mirada in 1955. I'm thinking the first fireworks stands went up around ‘58 or ‘59. They use to have one on the corner of Valley View and Rosecrans where the Market Basket was (now a Pep Boys).”
We’re not sure what year the first organized celebration of fireworks occurred in La Mirada, but it appears to be the early 70’s.
We believe 1977 was the last year of the annual Independence Day fireworks shows at Regional Park, before it was cancelled due to crowd control issues and the famous rock-throwing incident that shut down the show.
In The Kiwanis Club of La Mirada history manual, historian Mark Royston writes the community fireworks show was resurrected eight years later in 1985 when member Ari Barendrecht suggested they organize their own event and hold it at La Mirada High School’s Goodman Stadium on July 4th of every year.
The reemergence of the event was a success.
The event was held every year on July 4th until 1992 when it was moved to July 3rd; with the idea that it would allow the Kiwanis and City of La Mirada organizers to spend the 4th of July holiday with their families at home.
Although the event was moved to the 3rd, it remained a Kiwanis-run event with limited city contributions and it was still held at the high school stadium and came complete with parachute jumpers similar to those from the celebrations in the 70’s.
2003 was the last year Kiwanis sponsored the event, ending an 18-year run (the club has sold tri-tip sandwiches at the event ever since).
This was also the same year artificial turf was installed at Goodman Stadium, thus the event was returned to Regional Park, its birthplace.
With Kiwanis stepping down from running the event the city reemerged as the organizer in 2004.
The City of La Mirada does a fantastic job pulling this off; providing a safe, family-fun regional event that attracts up to 20,000 people annually.