Without financial help, the future of Freedom Fest hangs in the balance.

This editorial is the opinion of Morgan Hill Life

South Valley residents have traditionally enjoyed joining friends and neighbors in downtown Morgan Hill for two blockbuster summer celebrations — Freedom Fest and the Taste of Morgan Hill. Sadly, the rise of mass shootings in America is contributing to escalated security costs, making it more expensive to ensure families and individuals attending these events are safe.

We’re thankful Freedom Fest will continue July 3 and 4. We regret, however, the Taste of Morgan Hill that traditionally closes summer with a big street party won’t happen this year. The Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce board members voted unanimously last month to cancel the end-of-September event. Holding it would mean the business-focused nonprofit would lose money because of the additional security costs. (The Mushroom Mardi Gras, held on Memorial Day weekend in downtown Morgan Hill, faced a similar dilemma and converted their annual fundraiser festival into an evening concert at the amphitheater.)

The Chamber’s cancellation of this year’s Taste of Morgan Hill reflects responsible stewardship in protecting its resources. It also shows dedication to maintaining the integrity of vital business and community programs. CEO Nick Gaich expressed deep regret over the decision, which was driven by significant cost escalations, insurance premium hikes, and the need to ensure a safe and accessible festival space for the public.

While canceling this beloved tradition is undoubtedly disheartening, it is important to recognize the painful considerations and difficult choices faced by its board. (Full disclosure: Robert Airoldi, the editor of Morgan Hill Life, serves on the board and voted to cancel the Taste.) In an era where public safety concerns are paramount, it’s essential to allocate sufficient resources to protect the well-being of event attendees.

However, the financial burden associated with these requirements would have imposed an unsustainable deficit on the Chamber, jeopardizing its ability to support numerous essential programs. Canceling the event protects valued business and community programs. By avoiding a potentially significant deficit, the Chamber ensures the continuity of programs like Rock the Mock, the Friday Night Music Series, business breakfasts, mixers, and other initiatives supporting local businesses, schools and nonprofits.

While the cancellation of this year’s Taste of Morgan Hill is undoubtedly disappointing for residents and visitors alike, it is important to recognize the responsible decision-making and long-term vision demonstrated by the Chamber. The challenges faced by the event are not unique, as many organizations across America navigate the complexities of hosting large-scale gatherings. The Chamber’s commitment to its community and its dedication to preserving essential programs should be commended.

On the other hand, let’s be thankful Freedom Fest will take place this summer. Let’s also remember events such as the July 3 family street dance and the Independence Day parade and fireworks show require considerably more security funding than previous years. To ensure the continuity of our community’s celebration of America, it’s crucial for South Valley residents to come together and support through generous donations Independence Day Celebrations, Inc., the nonprofit organization behind the events. Freedom Fest has long been a cornerstone of Morgan Hill’s identity — a vibrant celebration bringing us together to honor our nation’s independence. The cherished occasion creates lasting memories for families and friends, where everyone can enjoy live music, exhilarating fireworks, and a diverse array of food and entertainment.

Without the community’s financial support, the future of the all-volunteer Freedom Fest hangs in the balance. The nonprofit organization faces a daunting challenge this year in bridging a wide financial gap. We encourage everyone to patriotically donate generously, providing the financial viability needed to guarantee our beloved summer tradition remains intact. Even small contributions make a significant difference when combined with the collective support of our community.

Let’s all recognize the broader benefits Freedom Fest brings us. Beyond the festivities, the event stimulates the local economy, supporting businesses and vendors who rely on the influx of visitors during the celebration. Moreover, local businesses large and small should consider giving back by sponsoring the event. This act of corporate responsibility not only demonstrates support for the community but also serves to showcase their commitment to Morgan Hill and its residents.

Our summer events foster a sense of unity and pride, strengthening the social fabric that binds us together. As we look to the future, let’s all join together and rally behind the Chamber and  Independence Day Celebrations, Inc.and support their efforts to make Morgan Hill the amazing community we love.