This Memorial Day, there were no parades or carnivals, no big public memorials and ceremonies to honor fallen heroes. Social distancing was still the rule and large gatherings were still prohibited amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. But those limitations didn’t appear to stop anyone from heading out into the sun or paying their respects in whatever ways they could.
While the number of Los Angeles County residents headed outside grew as the holiday weekend advanced, there were no reports of the kind of non-masked, non-distanced crowding that set off alarms in some places in the nation.
What the weekend lacked because of county restrictions, people made up for Monday, May 25, by taking in the beautiful weather and making the most of the holiday weekend. With beaches and many campgrounds reopened — as well as public gardens and trails in county parks and the Santa Monica Mountains — there were plenty of options for socially distanced sun worship.
While most Memorial Day ceremonies moved online, many cemeteries and memorial parks remained open so small groups and individuals could visit the grave sites of service members.
In Redondo Beach, Veterans Park remained quiet Monday where 600 people typically gather for the Memorial Day ceremony that grew into a standard-bearer in the region for the past decade. Vietnam veteran Tom Lasser and Mayor Bill Brand led a small group Monday in an on-line event broadcast from their homes on Facebook, abiding by the county’s “Safer at Home” orders banning large gatherings.
“There’s a lot of virtual stuff,” Lasser said, “but there’s something to be said when you are with other people and sharing laughter, grief and memories, and that make it more special now. Hopefully we will get through this virus and get back to normal when we can greet people, shake hands and hug and be close to each other the way humans normally do.”
Many people took time out on Monday to get outdoors. Beaches, though technically open for active use only, were filled with sunbathers near the shoreline.
The beaches were busier this weekend than any day since the shoreline reopened May 13 and the Strand opened on Friday, May 23, said Hermosa Beach Police Chief Paul LeBaron. As a result, the department had extra officers on duty, LeBaron said.
“The officers did issue citations for public drinking and traffic violations, but we don’t yet know how many,” LeBaron said through a spokeswoman. “The officers and the security guards were mostly educating beachgoers about the public health orders and social distancing and – when they saw large groups congregating – remaining on-scene until these large groups moved along or broke up.”
Others took to the trails and scenic lookouts.
Daniela Medina, 20, and her parents Manuel and Teresa came from Cudahy to enjoy the clifftop views of the ocean in Palos Verdes Estates. Like many others, the Medinas were looking for some fresh air after spending a lot of time indoors the past few months.
“This is one of the few times I’ve brought my mom out since quarantine,” Medina said. “It’s like a little breather from the regular routine.”
In Hermosa Beach, the parking lot was empty where the beer garden and bands would have stood at the postponed Fiesta Hermosa, one of the city’s biggest attractions that usually brings thousands to a street fair, kids carnival and live music.
“It’s a bummer,” said 25-year-old Lauren Hugo, who joined two friends on Monday on the beach. “It’s my favorite event, but we’re making it work. We’re still out here. We’re still in Hermosa even if the festival isn’t happening.”
Michael Bell, who for 20 years produced Fiesta Hermosa twice per year — the other event on Labor Day — said he was looking forward to getting back to normal.
“It’s sad, but I have hope for a Fall show,” Bell said.
Pier Plaza in Hermosa was slowly coming back to life with bars offering to-go alcoholic beverages along with food purchases. Anneke Blair and her friends were about to place an order at American Junkie after going for a bike ride.
“It’s still out. We’re still having a good time,” Blair said. “We’re still in the sun. It’s what you make of it. If this is what it is, then you make the best of what you got.”