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Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Pared-down Junior Lifeguard’s summer program is announced, while graduating seniors become intent on protesting local graduation plans

Fair Game Tom NewNewport Beach Fire Chief Jeff Boyles and Chief Lifeguard Mike Halphide shared some unfortunate news with me yesterday regarding Newport Beach’s incredible Junior Lifeguard Program.

Due to the coronavirus, the City is canceling most of the program this year except for the oldest group of 14- and 15-year-olds.

“While most every other junior lifeguard program up and down the coast has been canceled, we’re proud of our resiliency and determination to modify ours to continue despite COVID-19 social restrictions,” said Boyles.

Doing so will reduce the number of participants from 1,350 to 150. The plan is to have 80 junior guards participating in the morning session and 70 in the afternoon. 

According to our Chiefs, the changes also improve the student-instructor ratio from 22-1 to 10-1. City staff numbers will also reduce from 55 down to 13, which allows for better physical distancing for all involved.

Other changes include eliminating the marquee events that draw large crowds and focus more on the core competencies.

The decision was not easy for the lifeguard and fire leadership. They did consult with staff from Hoag and Scripps Institute in San Diego, as well as considering all local, state and federal guidelines.

Fair Game Junior Lifeguards

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Joshua Leith

Courtesy of Newport Beach Lifeguards

Newport Beach candidates for Junior Lifeguards running the Monster Mile in 2019

Boyles and Halphide issued the following: “While we hope our JG families will understand that given the current circumstances, that this option is the best available to the program. We do expect that the decision will be frustrating and disappointing to the 1,200 who will not be able to participate in the summer of 2020. We plan to bring the entire program back in 2021 bigger and better than ever. ”

This year’s program will run from June 23 to August 6.

• • •

Newport-Mesa Unified School District has proposed handling the graduations of both Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar high schools with a virtual ceremony produced by “the same company that produced USC’s graduation last week and brought us the NFL draft.” 

According to letters sent to students’ families last week from the respective principals, the District says, “we exhausted every possible scenario, and we simply cannot effectively plan for an in-person graduation.”

Well, those graduating seniors are not happy. To show it, they plan to protest this Tuesday, May 26 at 11 a.m., at the District offices in Costa Mesa.

Fair Game protest banner

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Submitted photo

This graduation protest banner hangs on the NHHS fence

According to that group, “what the kids really want is to postpone it (graduation) until the end of July or beginning of August and do an in-person ceremony following the social distancing recommendations at that time.”

It’ll be interesting to see where this goes, how many kids are involved in the protest and if the District will even consider their concerns and ideas.

More to come.

• • •

Monday is Memorial Day. It’s the federal holiday for honoring and mourning military personnel who have sacrificed their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It’s one of three holidays on the calendar, each with a different meaning, that honor our military.

As I said, Memorial Day honors those that have given the ultimate sacrifice, while Veterans Day honors those that have served, past tense. Then there’s Armed Forces Day that honors those currently serving.

So many people confuse the holidays and post thanks for people that served or are serving on Memorial Day. Unfortunately, that’s incorrect. 

Memorial Day is a special time when people remember and visit cemeteries to honor and mourn those who died.

It was started in 1868 when General John A. Logan issued a proclamation calling for “Decoration Day” to be observed annually for those who have died in service. It would eventually morph into Memorial Day.

The day, or weekend, also signifies the “unofficial” kickoff to summer.

• • •

There’s a flier going around promoting a “Memorial Day Trump Boat Parade” being organized midday on Monday to kick off in the Turning Basin.

Boats are asked to be decorated in red, white and blue with Trump banners and flags.

Sounds like fun, right?

Wrong!

Here is a statement from the City of Newport Beach: “The City has been made aware of an advertisement for a Memorial Day boat parade in the Newport Harbor. This type of activity requires a special event permit, and the City has not issued any permits for boat parades or ‘rafting up’ activities this coming weekend. We require permits for activities such as this to work out safety measures with the organizers and to clarify where the parade can take place, so other harbor users aren’t significantly inconvenienced, especially on a busy holiday.”

The City also reiterated that their objection “is not over the nature of the parade and/or free speech issues – it’s simply safety and the need to follow the permit process.”

Organizers of the planned event have been notified, as has the Harbor Patrol.

• • •

American Legion Newport Harbor Post 291 is taking to social media for their Memorial Day festivities and are inviting the public to join them. Their ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. Monday and will be presented as a videoconference on GoToWebinar, with everyone invited to attend. 

According to Post 291 Adjutant Mike Berdine, signing into the webinar is a two-step process. First, each attendee must “Register” by clicking on the link, entering his/her name and email address, and then clicking “Submit.” The attendee will then receive almost immediately an email back thanking them for their registration and providing a “button” to click labeled “Join Webinar” – which is the second step.

Here is the link to join.

• • •

Pacific View Memorial & Mortuary Park in Corona del Mar usually holds Memorial Day festivities. Like most everyone else, coronavirus has canceled those plans for this year. However, according to officials, people with loved ones in the park will still be allowed to place flowers.

• • •

When they said coronavirus was potentially going to kill a lot, who knew they were talking about businesses. This week the news is Royal Thai Cuisine on West Coast Highway is closing. Forty-four years and it’s over.