The Fourth's economic impact

July 09, 2008 12:00 am

By Kelley Atherton

Crescent City can be intense during the Fourth of July.

There's been plenty of talk about what the holiday and tourism does for our local economy. But you can't actually understand that until you see it for yourself on Beachfront Park.

After the parade Friday, the weather couldn't have been more perfect with the sun shining, a cool breeze blowing and (most importantly) no fog. The great weather probably helped out during the day.

Thousands of people were buying clothes, crafts and beer in the park. People were lined up from one side of Front Street to the other to get their doughboys and hamburgers.

The streets around town were jammed with traffic.

Crescent City/Del Norte Chamber of Commerce President Grant Scholes said the word around town was that there were more out-of-towners this year. The deck party, he said, also seemed to be heavily attended.

But the real question is whether those people spent money all over town and not just on Beachfront. That is what will make an impact our economy. The chamber doesn't have any numbers on how many people attended the festivities.

"It's really up to the restaurants and hotels to see how did they did," Scholes said.

Knowing most of the hotels were booked up last week, I would have to guess that the TOT (transient occupancy tax) revenue will be up for July.

What could have made this Fourth a truly memorable experience would have been the fireworks—if anyone could have seen them. The fog that rolled out Friday morning came back with a vengeance Friday afternoon and refused to leave.

The thousands of people camped along the beaches had a great view of colored fog and heard the loud booms. Scholes agreed the weather put a damper on an otherwise successful event.

The chamber spent $30,000 on the fireworks.

The holiday showed us the potential our little city has to be a tourist destination. People come for the redwoods, but the idea is to get them to stay in Crescent City longer and spend more money. A lot of people just keeping driving to Humboldt County or Oregon.

However, the downside for locals is more traffic and people wandering around. Part of the charm is that its behind the redwood curtain—a hidden community for those lucky enough to find it.

The Fourth of July seems to be working well, though, considering all those people. Let's just hope that they'll come back next year.

"As it continues to grow and develop, we'll gain some more notoriety outside Del Norte County," Scholes said about marketing the Fourth of July celebration.

Marks of freedom

I hope no one forgot the true meaning of the Fourth of July though. I didn't hear any music during the fireworks, but surely the local radio stations were playing patriotic music, reminding us that Friday was our Independence Day.

Every year, the Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation releases a ranking of economic freedom throughout the world. Surprisingly enough, the U.S. is up from years past. Our nation finished fifth worldwide, following Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland and Australia.

The Index of Economic Freedom looks at 10 categories from government size to labor and trade freedom. Out of a possible score of 157, the worldwide average was 60.3 (out of 100).

This is a good reminder that while things may not be all peachy in America right now, there is a lot to be grateful for.