Ramirez was one of many residents across the region who chose to stay closer to home this Labor Day weekend, frequenting local parks and shopping centers, despite lower gas prices than last year and tempting travel deals.
“We’re trying not to spend so much money,” he said.
The Automobile Club of Southern California predicted a 13.3% decrease in travel this Labor Day weekend compared with last year. While many people cited economic reasons for staying home, the holiday’s later-than-normal date this year also factored in, according to AAA.
“With Labor Day falling a week later this year when many children will have returned to school, the decline may more to do with the calendar than with the economy,” AAA national’s president and chief executive, Robert L. Darbelnet, said in a statement.
At Glendale’s Brand Park on Monday afternoon, most picnic tables were full as people laid out large spreads of food and fired up the public barbecues.
Glendale resident Venus Morales decided to spend her day off having a barbecue at the park and attach it to a fundraiser. Her boyfriend, Cheyenne Thompson, a Marine Corps reservist, is deployed in Afghanistan, so she hoped to use the day to raise some money and get some donations to send to him and his unit.
“There’s nothing else we can do besides wait, so I wanted to try to make their stay a little bit better,” she said.
As Thompson and her friends and family set up, even stringing a hammock between two trees, she said she expected between 30 and 40 people. Many of the people she’d spoken with weren’t planning on traveling, she said.
The bargain of staying local also wasn’t lost on Hosanna Jackson who had set up shop with friends at Brand Park on Monday afternoon.
“We decided to come to a local park so nobody spends their gas money,” the Glendale Community College student said. “And parks are free.”
Besides, she added, why leave an area that’s a tourist destination in its own right?
“We live in the best place on Earth,” Jackson said. “Why would we leave?”
MELANIE HICKEN covers City Hall. She may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.