Viewpoint–Adults Need to Step Up Stop After-Hours Park Activities

Fireworks explosions at the Rec Center.


A middle-school boy was badly injured in a fireworks explosion that happened at the Palisades Recreation Center on June 16 around 10:15 p.m.

People can tell he is hurt terribly, because his cries of anguish can be heard on the video.

The kid, who was injured, is at the Grossman Burn Center that specializes in comprehensive treatment of burns from acute care and reconstruction. CTN has been told he will need surgery and that he may be scarred for life.

The “friends” who were with him when the explosion happened did not call 911. They did not call the kid’s parents for help, instead they ran off, leaving the kid to get home on his own.

Parents, it doesn’t matter if your kid is a star athlete or the top of his class academically. It does not matter if someday he may go to a “top college.” If your kid does not have enough compassion and empathy to help someone who is severely injured, your kid lacks humanity. Your kid lacks a conscience and kindness. Your kid lacks a soul.

The injured boy will not talk about what happened, probably because he doesn’t now want to be known as a “snitch” and doesn’t want to get his “friends” in trouble.  He doesn’t understand, that he could actually save his “friends” from a similar fate.

With such a severe injury, many might think that put a stop to the fireworks at the Rec Center. No.

Last night, June 19, there were fireworks at the park again, three explosions happened around 9 p.m. at the corner of the baseball field. A stronger explosion happened about 11:12 p.m. in the area that appeared to be the Palisades Bowl.

The Rec Center closes at 8 p.m. and there is no one in the office. Residents who live around the rim of the park have been told to call 911.

Police have responded when called, but generally the youth either have scattered or they wait until the police officers leave before setting off more fireworks.

The Rec Center staff does call the police on a regular basis during hours, because of issues caused by packs of youth, graffiti, fighting, using a lighter and aerosol sprays to cause a flame thrower.

Police can’t be at the center 24/7. Parents, if you don’t want your child to end up in a burn center or worse at a funeral home, it’s your time to step up.

  • Where are kids getting money to buy fireworks?
  • Do you know what places your kids are ordering from?
  • Do you know where your kids are after 10 p.m.? If they say they are going to a friend’s house, do you check?

There are other adults, besides parents, that can take responsibility, too.

Pacific Palisades Community Council, what are you doing about the illegal activity at the Palisades Rec Center?  Saying “not my problem” doesn’t further the conversation. One resident, who lives near the park, wondered about the PPCC’s obsession with safety in Potrero Park, “despite the fact neighbors of the Recreation Center are situated far closer and are far more impacted by nighttime activity.”

Park Advisory Board are you reaching out to L.A. City Recreation and Park Department asking for more oversight?

Saying there’s nothing that “we can do,” only means another teen maybe be injured or killed.

This editor knows that fireworks can kill from personal experience. Her grandfather John Bernard Larson died in fireworks accident on July 4, 1950.

My grandfather was a farmer, well-liked and respected by fellow farmers and the people who lived in the nearby town. Every July 4th a community picnic was held at Lydon’s Dam. My mother wrote “There were big cotton wood trees to provide shade and neighbors all brought food to be shared at noon.”

After the meal, it was a softball game, and my grandfather who was ambidextrous was a key players because he could pitch left or right-handed.

In the evening, a fireworks display was the closing event. Everyone who could afford to, had contributed some money to buy and select the shells.

My grandfather, and a friend Tom Lydon, were in charge of setting off the fireworks.

“It was to be a grand beginning,” my mom said. “The first one was supposed to be fireworks that looked like a flag.”

My grandfather and Tom lit the fuse, but it didn’t go off.

They went back to check on it, thinking they might need to light it again. As they bent over the shell, it exploded in my grandfather’s face. Tom was also burned.

They rushed my grandfather to the hospital 45 miles away. My mom remembers that they had to go to the farm and shut up the chickens, before they traveled to the hospital too.

“When we got to the parking lot, mom and my brother were come from the hospital, and they told us dad had died.”

She remembers that her father never had a chance to go to high school, but served three terms on the school board. “He was well-read and informed. We got a daily newspaper when we could afford it.”

She said that some of the attributes of my grandfather were “honesty, hard-working, loving, friendly and handsome. I loved my dad very much and sad he was killed so young. He was only 56.”

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8 Responses to Viewpoint–Adults Need to Step Up Stop After-Hours Park Activities

  1. Paula H Deats says:

    Another unknown American “hero”. The more we hear of these, the more we know they had become the rule in our country. It took building a network of civilization over generatons. Lies can kill everything.

  2. Margot says:

    Couldn’t agree more! (And you haven’t even touched upon the grave fire danger and effect on pets caused by fireworks). The need for more “security” would disappear if parents were doing their job. Sad to say but you are correct: there are Pali families who are raising kids who lack humanity, who lack empathy, who lack a soul.

  3. Katie O'Neill says:

    Sue – What a sad but important story. I am so sorry about your grandfather. And my heart aches for the injured boy. I am having a hard time imagining what sort of person, whatever their age, would abandon their friend in a situation like this.

  4. joy says:

    There are no words for the author who lost a father. There should be words for the parents and kids who are doing this. I heard the explosion near the Bowl and it was sizeable. As a parent, I cannot think of any reason why my teenaged kids should be out and about at 10pm without a specific reason. ” I’m ‘Hangin’ ” doesn’t cut it. Think about the kids involved, both as part of the explosions or innocently affected. Or, consider the wild animals disturbed. And, of interest to all of us, including the families of the perpetrators – the drastic fire hazard this whole thing is. Parents: Where are your kids tonight? It is 9:30 and a set of fire crackers just went off between the Palisades bowl and Tahitian Terrace. SOMEone’s kids are out there. Are they yours?

  5. Cindy Simon says:

    I clean tagging / grafitti on signs within Potrero Canyon daily… and in various spots in the Village. I haven’t seen a person in the act but I assume it’s the same persons who set off fireworks and have a disregard for our community. So depressing, but when I clean off the tagging I feel a lot better.

  6. Karin (Olson) Espinosa says:

    Sue, I am so sorry that your grandfather died doing something for his community as a celebration. He clearly had a soul! What I read about these adolescents is very troubling for all of the reasons stated above. This blatant lack of empathy by all (group think perhaps, some will claim…”I was just following so and so”) needs to be addressed by the parents ASAP. Things get worse with age, not better.

  7. Kathleen Jensen says:

    Were illegal fireworks & the injured teen at Rec Center mentioned at the PPCC meeting last night(6/22)? I left after Randy Young was given his service award by Councilwoman Traci Park. I hope you mentioned something to her when you spoke privately outside the library. Thanks.

  8. Brooke Klein says:

    1) I am really sorry about your grandfather… such a tragic accident 🙁 I am also very sorry that the middle schooler was seriously injured, and I wish him a speedy recovery.

    2) Other adults HAVE tried to step up. I tried for months to get permission to hire private security for BOTH the Pali Rec Center and Potrero Canyon (Jasmine from the Rec Center supported this, as they have been begging the City for years for a security guard at the Rec Center and have been denied every time). I was told by the City, Recs and Parks and the Chief Park Ranger that I could not hire private security. I was told that we could only hire security through LAPD, which would cost a fortune. If we all come together, we could raise enough money to do this. I believe the City should pay for this, but they refuse.

    3) I have been emailing with multiple members on the PPCC board and they are absolutely not saying, “not my problem” and are currently trying to find solutions.

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