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Featured Image: The bold and the brave compete for glory during the annual San Clemente Office Chair Races on July 4, 2021. Photo: Alan Gibby

By C. Jayden Smith

As the City of San Clemente’s annual celebration of Independence Day approaches, so does the fireworks display and all the fun the Fourth of July can bring.

One local tradition expected to make its return on Monday is the San Clemente Fourth of July Office Chair Downhill Derby. The races typically kick off in the morning, as soon as there are enough participants to run the course.

During the competitions throughout the day, participants show off a bit of pageantry and a lot of bravery, along with some engineering skills, as they use modified office chairs to slide down Avenida Rosa to the intersection of Avenida Santa Barbara and Calle Seville.

The block party event is known to gather hundreds of spectators who line the street and join in on the fun by either cheering on their favorite racers or hurling water balloons at them.

While many are at the Office Chair Races, hundreds of others are likely to visit San Clemente’s beaches to soak up some fun under the sun, as well as enjoy the city’s fireworks display that lights up the evening summer sky.

The 20-minute fireworks show from the San Clemente Pier will provide an experience unique to previous shows, but city officials are consistent in their protocol to keep both residents and visitors safe.

“A lot of our residents come out to the beach areas and safety remains our No. 1 priority as the day goes on, from morning all the way to the end of the firework show,” said Samantha Wylie, director of the Beaches, Parks, and Recreation Department.

In preparation for the show, the end of the pier will be closed off starting at noon on Sunday, July 3. The rest of the pier will be closed starting Monday, July 4, at 8 a.m. All ocean access will be closed 1,000 feet in both directions from the pier from 8-10 p.m., to protect people from fireworks fallout.

The municipal beach and pier will be closed immediately after the show until Tuesday morning, July 5.

San Clemente Police Services will restrict vehicular traffic from approximately 7-10 p.m. in the lower Pier Bowl area near the pier, and the 200 to 300 blocks of Avenida Victoria will be closed to vehicle access from 8:30-11 p.m.

Police services will assist people in exiting the area, and both drivers and pedestrians are encouraged to be cautious of other vehicles and the train tracks.

All intersections on El Camino Real from El Portal and Avenida Gaviota will be set to flashing red.

Additionally, the San Clemente Trolley will be in service from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. to assist with downtown parking, with the route to be adjusted, beginning at 6 p.m., to accommodate for street closures. The closures will impact stops including the pier and others along Avenida Del Mar.

Trolley riders can access the service at the stop near the San Clemente Community Center, located on Avenida Del Mar and Calle Seville. 

When leaving the beach, people are asked to take their trash with them. Overnight camping, smoking and the consumption of alcohol, and drone usage without expressed permission from the city is prohibited.

Dogs will not be permitted on the coastal Beach Trail on July 4; electric bicycles are prohibited on the Beach Trail and the beach at all times. Enforcement personnel will be monitoring those areas, according to Wylie.

Otherwise, she added that a big priority of the city’s is to ensure visitors to the beaches are water safe. Actions to help that cause include checking in with the lifeguards on duty to check the water conditions, and connecting with lifeguards on the beach or at the Marine Safety headquarters near the pier for questions about beach safety.

Wylie said the varieties of firework bombardments depend on the supply, and that she learned about the setup after meeting with the city’s contracted operator Monday, June 27.

“Most cities (and agencies) are seeing there’s a shortage of fireworks on the supply chain,” she said. “They’re grabbing whatever they can from their warehouses, whatever’s been in stock, and that’s what they’re plugging in.”

Wylie also said viewers of the display can expect some bigger explosions than normal.

Visit to check for changes to the trolley’s operation. For additional questions regarding the celebration, contact the Beaches, Parks, and Recreation Department at 949.361.8264.

C. Jayden Smith

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.

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comments (1)

  • This is an exiting San Clemente tradition! Love the office chair races and all the patriotic costumes. Great way to celebrate the fourth.

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