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Fred Swegles

Any other year, San Clemente would be highly energized right now, blasting into summer.

We’d be checking out festivities on Avenida Del Mar this weekend, looking for eye candy at the Downtown Business Association’s classic car show. Then, just a few days later, we’d be dancing on the sand or munching on a dinner plate from the Fisherman’s during the Summer Beach Concert Series. We’d be gearing up, too, for massive crowds anticipated at the pier for the July 4 fireworks show.

Today, preoccupied with the distractions from a coronavirus pandemic, it’s easy to forget the cornucopia of summer San Clemente fun that we may have taken for granted in years past.

This weekend, there will be no car show on Avenida Del Mar. This would have been the 25th annual, so the 25th will have to wait a year.

Nor will there be a June 18 summer beach concert. Nor the community’s weeklong June tradition of celebrating outdoor art with Paint San Clemente.

Big events planned for the first part of the summer season have had to be canceled or postponed, due to restrictions on large group gatherings, uncertainties or logistics. Some traditional August activities still could come to fruition, if circumstances allow.

Spectators at the 2019 San Clemente Ocean Festival cheered on friends and family members as competitors approached the finish line. Photo: Fred Swegles

Summer event cancellations are happening here and there, worldwide—for example, a July tour I had booked to England to celebrate the 400th anniversary of three of my ancestors’ voyage to America aboard the Mayflower in 1620.

In San Clemente, here’s what is up (or down), as of Monday, June 8:

  • 25th annual Car Show: It’s being postponed to June 12, 2021.
  • 19th annual Paint San Clemente: The June 20-28 event is canceled for this year.
  • July 4 Fireworks: No display at the pier this year. City staff is working on a possible alternative at Vista Hermosa Sports Park, details to be announced.
  • City’s Summer Concerts: June 18, July 9 and July 30 are canceled. Aug. 13 is still on the city’s calendar at this time.
  • 44th annual San Clemente Ocean Festival: Won’t take place this year. Look for it on July 17-18, 2021. See
  • 67th annual Fiesta Music Festival: The Chamber of Commerce hopes to reschedule the August event for sometime in October, possibly with changes and possibly linked with the San Clemente Seafest. For updates, see
  • 60th annual Village Art Faire: Is still being planned for Aug. 15-16 with safety measures and a smaller scale to allow for safe social distancing.

However this summer plays out, we can celebrate the fact that we’ve enjoyed so many summer activities for so many years without a hitch.

In recent years, one of my favorite things to do in June has been to explore all the South County cities’ websites for their summer concert schedules to see how many tribute bands music fans could witness by going from city to city on select summer dates.

The Journey tribute band Lights drew an enthusiastic audience at San Clemente’s June 20, 2019, beach concert. Photo: Fred Swegles

A year ago at this time, I wrote, “What if you could go to concerts this summer to see Journey, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, George Michael, Wham!, Aretha Franklin, ABBA, Foreigner, Queen, the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Neil Diamond, and Earth, Wind & Fire—all within a handful of miles from home … and for free?”

No doubt, a similar lineup of free concerts sounding just like the real big-name bands was in the works this spring. At some point, concerts had to be canceled. There can be no assurance when the state will deem it safe to resume concerts or any activities likely to draw multitudes. Will some concerts still be possible?

The city’s summer magazine recently came out, thinner than usual because in-person activities that normally fill most of the magazine aren’t possible. The recreation staff has done its best to provide a lineup of online classes and activities.  For details, see

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens is doing the same—offering some online classes and activities. The Casa’s outdoor gardens are open for touring; indoor touring is not, for now. For updates, see

Let’s hope the pandemic will abate, will not spike again, and we’ll be back to the life that we perhaps took for granted before this once-in-a-lifetime situation unfolded.

Meanwhile, we can count our blessings and enjoy a quieter summer at the beach, observing safe distancing, respecting others’ space.

Fred Swegles is a longtime San Clemente resident with nearly five decades of reporting experience in the city. Fred can be reached at

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comments (1)

  • thanks fred

    along with finishing and widening the beach trail another campaign endeavor would be shooting the works off from a barge so the whole pier could be used by every one on the forth of July not just the rich for a fisherman’s feed and exclusive front row view ,,,,the seating is limited and who can afford to set their whole family ,,,,,think of the multiple events hot dog eating pie eating dunk tank water melons tandem surfing for all not just the few and the fisherman’s can sell to everyone not just the privileged our beach is very narrow at all time and high tide more so we need the space council ::::::::::::::(-:P

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