City Council to Consider Support for July 5th Drone Show, Adding Juneteenth Celebration to Calendar

The agenda for tonight’s City Council meeting on April 8, 2024 features an action item that may begin the shift on how our summer holidays are celebrated. A July 5th drone show, and a city-sponsored Juneteenth are both up for discussion. 

When John Cohn of the Exchange Club spoke to the city council in February, he offered that the club would not be putting on the Independence Day Fireworks Show this year. They were focusing instead on the Annual Car Show, and possibly retiring the fireworks permanently. “It’s just become cost-prohibitive. We lost a lot of money last year, and as a non-profit, we can’t continue doing that.” 

What could be the new Culver City Independence Day celebration is a proposed July 5th drone show, sponsored by the Downtown Business Association. A request for an “off-cycle grant in the amount of $30,000,” will be voted on by the council. 

Darrel Menthe, the executive director of the DBA, shared his perspective, saying “After we learned of the cancellation of the City’s traditional Fourth of July fireworks show, the DBA decided to step in to create a new Independence celebration for Culver City.  I am excited about having live music and a drone show after dark downtown.” 

Culver City has long been an Independence Day destination for people in LA County looking to celebrate the holiday, and during the years when the fireworks were cancelled in the past, there was much public dissatisfaction. After cancelling the show in 2013, and then moving the venue from Culver City High School to West Los Angeles College in 2014, the event was cancelled again in 2019 owing to construction at the college, and then suspended because of the pandemic until 2023.

Menthe offered “An aerial drone show is a fully 21st century experience that is visible for up to two miles, but without the explosions and fire danger posed by traditional pyrotechnics.  We are seeking city funding for about two thirds of the cost this inaugural year but expect that future iterations of the event will be primarily funded through private sponsorship if this event proves successful.”

While the first Culver City Juneteenth celebration coincided with the holiday coming onto the national calendar, it has yet to get official city status. The huge public turnout on the first celebration in the downtown plaza was made even more notable by then-Mayor Dr. Daniel Lee’s ability to pull in celebrities like Aloe Blacc and Will Gittens. Putting Juneteenth on Culver City’s official celebration calendar could start the summer with a very popular party downtown.

Lee shared that “Culver city’s first Juneteenth event was a celebration of emancipation and inclusion. For five hours neighbors and visitors enjoyed a variety of performances in [the] town plaza, and many stayed for hours afterwards.” 

Tonight’s agenda item looks to make Juneteenth a “city produced event” with a grant of $20,000 allocated for the holiday. 

Judith Martin-Straw

Photo – San Diego’s Independence Day drone show from 2023, photo credit CBS News




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