PV Carnival Officially Opens Summer
• The annual Carnival at the top of the Peninsula came back to open the summer season.
The Palos Verdes Street Fair has been a staple in the community for years. From smiling kids tugging on their parents’ arms running toward the nearest carnival game, to groups of teenagers taking pictures on the Ferris Wheel and the sweet smell of the food trucks’ delicacies wafting through the air, this Carnival marks the beginning of summer in Palos Verdes.
Though the event was called the Palos Verdes Carnival this year, it operated similarly to past street fairs. The Carnival, held from June 18 to June 20, resumed after missing last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The annual event was a breath of fresh air for many, as the majority of COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in California on June 15.
The full reopening of the state included the removal of the mask mandate, unless otherwise specified by businesses. And no social distancing, no capacity restrictions and the removal of the county tier system.
Thus, the Carnival was held with little modifications, and appeared to be almost back to normal. There were quite a few changes made, attendance was high and attendees were overall satisfied with the experience.
Planning of the event was no easy feat. The Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, which orchestrated the entire Carnival, began planning in mid-April after Los Angeles County approved the reopening of carnivals.
Originally, as it was unknown when restrictions would be lifted, the Chamber planned for many COVID-19 precautions. There were plans of social distancing stickers on the floor to keep lines spaced out, pre-sold tickets online, contactless ticket scanning and ultraviolet lights to clean the rides.
When California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the reopening of the state on June 15, the Chamber decided to hold the Carnival on the weekend of June 18-20. Though it was still unclear what “reopening the state” entailed, it ended up working out, as the Carnival was allowed to proceed without the many COVID-19 restrictions.
Attendees were permitted to take whatever personal precautions they felt comfortable with, and there was no enforcement to wear masks or follow social distancing guidelines.
Despite lifted restrictions, there were numerous changes made to this year’s event. Most notable was the change from being a street fair to a carnival, as no streets were closed to traffic.
Previously, Norris Center Drive was affected by the many booths, causing traffic to be redirected to alternate routes. Because quite a few permits are required to close down a street – a costly task – there was no need to go through the hassle of closing any streets. Instead, the booths stayed in the parking lot of Union Bank, while the rides and games were stationed across the street in the parking lot by the Bay Club gym.
All 65 vendors were able to fit in the lot with ease, therefore the hassle of closing the street was unnecessary. Additionally, as the Bay Club created an outdoor area to extend their gym during the pandemic, there was less room for the carnival rides in the parking lot.
Due to this, there were three fewer rides than in years past, including the absence of the Zipper, the bumper cars and the large drop.
Though Peninsula High School student Skylar Lee still enjoyed what was available, she noticed the absence of the rides.
“I went to Teen Night on Friday with some friends and was upset to discover there was no Zipper this year,” Lee said. “I have been going to the [carnival] for many years and always ran straight to Zipper. Still, I went on most of the rides available this year and enjoyed them, specifically the ride Star Power.”
Despite the fewer rides, there was still a big crowd. Though COVID-19 is in no way gone, the lifting of restrictions and the large number of vaccines being distributed has caused people to feel more comfortable going out to public events.
There was an original plan to have volunteers at the two entrances doing crowd control, limiting the number of people in the lot, but there was no need for that after June 15. This was very evident at the carnival, as all three days were packed with people of all ages.
Recent Palos Verdes High School graduate Avery Simonian was shocked at the big crowd. She was not expecting such a large number of people to gather.
“There were so many people,” Simonian said. “Because there was only one lot for rides and games and the Target parking lot was not part of the carnival, it felt much more crowded.”
The large crowds indicate a successful event in terms of people in attendance and money earned. During the pandemic, the economy took a hit, specifically in regards to small businesses.
The Carnival, with an entire parking lot dedicated to booths for businesses to advertise and sell their goods, was a good opportunity to increase revenue. Since there were many people in attendance, these booths got more business, which was much needed after such a tough year.
The event itself was able to make a profit, as tickets were $25 for 50 tickets or $35 for a wristband. Many people attended the Carnival for the rides, which required tickets or a wristband.
“Many of our small businesses are hanging on by a thread and need an opportunity to get out and talk to the community,” said Eileen Hupp, Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce director and CEO. “Our mission is to support and promote our local businesses, and this was a way to do that” she said.
“Additionally, the Chamber is a nonprofit organization that has been equally hit by the pandemic, and our revenue sources have been turned upside down. It cost us a lot to put the event on, including permits, Porta Potties, security, marketing and insurance, so our hope was that this would be a successful event so we could cover our costs, support local businesses, get the community out and have the Chamber make a profit to keep moving forward.”
The local restaurants also thrived because of the Carnival. Though there were a few food vendors at the Carnival itself, for full meals people were directed toward restaurants in the Promenade on the Peninsula and the Peninsula Shopping Center, including Good Stuff, Big Island Eats, Ruby’s Diner and Rubios.
There were only a few food trucks for convenience, and there were signs up at the booths directing people to local restaurants. It was the best of both worlds, as people could easily walk to a nearby restaurant to sit down and eat a nice meal, but they could also pick up a quick bite at a food truck. A favorite was the deep fried Oreos, which many Carnival-goers seemed to enjoy.
The Carnival seemed to have gone quite well overall, allowing people to feel a sense of normalcy for the first time in more than a year. The event brought a sense of community back to Palos Verdes, and people were able to reunite and have some fun outside of their homes.
“It has been so amazing to see friends and neighbors running into each other who have not seen each other in 14 months,” Hupp said. “This carnival has allowed people to interact once again, and that changes the mindset of the community to feel a stronger sense of connection. People are finally able to see each other in three dimensions again, rather than through a screen, and it has been so great to watch.”