by Eric Michael Stitt
The unofficial start to summer will take place this weekend when 150,000 people flood into downtown for three days to experience Fiesta Hermosa.
The Memorial Day weekend celebration, produced by the Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, has been taking place for more than 40 years in the seaside city and officials are gearing up for another successful event.
Fiesta Hermosa runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday between 10th and 14th streets on Hermosa Avenue and east to Monterey Boulevard.
Some of the key attractions are the popular Kiddie Carnival that features a 30-foot slide, various mechanical rides, a petting zoo, pony rides and face painting for children 3 to 10 years old. And those looking to browse and purchase everything from jewelry, artwork and crafts will have more than 300 vendors to choose from, which includes booths promoting local businesses.
For those who enjoy a variety of live music, the bands, which range from Motown to classic rock, will be performing at two locations – the main stage and beer garden. The music begins at 11 a.m. and runs until 6:30 p.m. throughout the holiday weekend. (See page 34 for a schedule.)
Fiesta Hermosa is the key revenue generator for the nonprofit chamber, which puts the money back into the community, according to its President/CEO Maureen Hunt.
“The Fiesta is our sole funding for the chamber,” Hunt said. “It’s very unique for a nonprofit to give back to other nonprofits … it’s a win-win situation.”
She said in addition to putting money from Fiesta back into the city and business community, the chamber also allows local nonprofits to serve in the popular beer garden with all proceeds going back to their charities. She said this weekend five groups will split time serving those who come to “drink for charity” and will each receive $2,500. The nonprofits will split all the tips collected from the weekend too.
Another busy area at Fiesta Hermosa is the food court that will have 30 vendors and nearly 20 different types of choices.
Ken Hartley, the chamber’s chairman of the board, said this year they were able to bring in more Hermosa Beach restaurants than they’ve ever had in the food court, which benefits everyone.
“With these types of businesses, the money they make goes right back to the South Bay,” Hartley said.
Hunt said they will be running complimentary shuttle service from Northrop Grumman at 1900 Aviation Boulevard near the intersection of Marine Street in Manhattan Beach because it’s extremely difficult to find parking during Memorial Day weekend in Hermosa Beach. The buses will drop off and pick up people at Bayview Drive near Fiesta. The shuttles will operate from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. each day.
The popular bicycle valet lot will also be running throughout the weekend and is, according to Hunt, unmatched by any other.
“It might be the biggest in the world,” Hunt said. “Last Memorial Day weekend we had 4,500 (cyclists).”
The lot is free and runs from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. south the pier.
With Fiesta Hermosa, Hunt said the chamber is focused on reaching out to people throughout the South Bay and surrounding area to entice them to routinely visit the community. She said this weekend’s event is the perfect chance to showcase Hermosa Beach.
“We’re trying to attract people into town to shop and dine in our restaurants,” she said.
Hartley agreed that it’s their ideal chance to highlight Hermosa Beach in hopes of bringing more people back throughout the year.
“It’s a good way to have visitors come and see Hermosa and realize we have a lot of cool restaurants and shops. So hopefully they’ll come back to Hermosa Beach when we’re not as busy.”
Fiesta Hermosa takes place during Labor Day weekend too, and Hunt is hoping to start gathering support to create a “Hermosa Village” within the event to shine an even brighter light on the local scene.
Hunt envisions a section of Fiesta that will be cut out for various booths that represent local nonprofits, police and firefighter associations, animal rescue groups, cancer research organizations and schools.
“We’re trying to make it more community friendly,” Hunt said.
She said to push for that local feel, Hermosa Beach artists receive half off for their booth space and residents receive a discount on carnival tickets. Chamber members also get a free spot in front of their business. Hartley said the chamber gives local restaurant owners their choice of placement at Fiesta as well. Truly representing the community will continue to be a priority as they move forward, he said.
Now with four decades behind them and a bright outlook, Hunt said Fiesta Hermosa is stronger than ever and welcomes everyone to swing into downtown to take in all the event has to offer.
“Come down because there is something for everyone – food, entertainment, dancing and shopping.”
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