2020 in review: Top stories of the year in Fountain Valley

Fountain Valley prides itself on being “a nice place to live,” but the coronavirus pandemic had a way of making times tough on residents and businesses alike.

Still, the community found ways to sprinkle in bits of normalcy like movies in the park and a Halloween parade, as well as helping those in need who faced food insecurity or needed COVID-19 testing.

Across the area, demonstrations were part of 2020. Fountain Valley saw protests for Black Lives Matter and the healthcare industry.

Have a look at some of the top stories in Fountain Valley for 2020:

Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center protests

The pandemic put a strain on just about every sector of society, and perhaps none more so than those working in the healthcare industry.

As cases surged in Orange County, healthcare workers protested outside Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center over safety concerns for themselves and their patients.

Some of the concerns included a desire for improved contact tracing to track virus exposure and the treating of COVID-19 patients and uninfected patients on the same shift.

Hospital workers also advocated for testing to be made available to all employees and newly admitted patients.

Fountain Valley fire and rescue members participate in a Halloween parade at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital on Oct. 30.

Fountain Valley fire and rescue members participate in the 14th annual Pediatric Trick-or-Treat Parade at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center on Oct. 30.

(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Local hospital provides normalcy for kids at Halloween

For Halloween, Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center’s Pediatric Trick-or-Treat Parade went on in drive-through fashion. Pediatric patients, hospital personnel and their children were in costume as they took in the sights and sounds.

City Council members and police and fire department personnel rolled past, activating their vehicle lights for the entertainment of the onlookers. The parade also included a visit from a Miss Fountain Valley princess.

Children were able to partake in activities like voting for their favorite pumpkin design created by hospital staff.

Hundreds marched around Mile Square Park in support of Black Lives Matter on June 4.

Hundreds like Sarah Dilitkanich, 20, of Mission Viejo, center with portrait, marched around Mile Square Park in support of Black Lives Matter and George Floyd in Fountain Valley on June 4.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Black Lives Matter protests come to Mile Square Park

Following the death of George Floyd, protests ensued in cities across the nation that called for social justice and rallied against police brutality.

Hundreds of demonstrators showed up at Mile Square Park on the same day that a memorial service was held for Floyd, marching around the perimeter of the park while shouting chants like “Black lives matter,” “I can’t breathe,” and “No justice, no peace. No racist police.” The protesters also carried signs to be seen by passing motorists.

Cars park on the grass at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley to watch a drive-in showing of "Sonic the Hedgehog" on Aug. 1.

Cars park on the grass at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley to watch a drive-in showing of “Sonic the Hedgehog” on Aug. 1.

(Courtesy of Rob Frizzelle)

Alternative family fun during the pandemic

Fountain Valley Sports Park served as the sight of the return of the drive-in movie.

Families were able to attend a showing of “Sonic the Hedgehog” in August and a double-feature Spooktacular was featured as Halloween approached. The movies shown on Oct. 24 were “Hotel Transylvania” and “Hocus Pocus.”

Safety protocols like wearing a mask when outside of a vehicle were in place, but otherwise, the events provided a blast to the past for many parents.

Fountain Valley City Council member Michael Vo speaks during a meeting on Aug. 18.

Fountain Valley City Council member Michael Vo speaks during a meeting on Aug. 18.

(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Fountain Valley elects two new members to City Council

Glenn Grandis and Ted Bui came out on top in a race in which seven candidates ran for two available seats on the Fountain Valley City Council.

The seats had belonged to Cheryl Brothers, who was serving as the city’s mayor, and Steve Nagel, who did not seek reelection after serving three consecutive terms.

When the council turned over after the election, Michael Vo was called upon to serve his third term as mayor, while Patrick Harper was selected as mayor pro tem.

Fountain Bowl, on the 17100 block of Brookhurst St., in Fountain Valley on Sept. 9.

Fountain Bowl, on the 17100 block of Brookhurst St., in Fountain Valley on Sept. 9.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Coronavirus forces hand of Fountain Bowl owners

Measures taken to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus have resulted in negative repercussions for local businesses like Fountain Bowl.

Nearly six months removed from the initial coronavirus-related shutdowns, owners Gary Forman and Dave Osborn came to the tough conclusion that they would have to sell the property. During a brief reopening period, they had attempted to keep the business going with significant reductions in staff.

Osborn said that safety protocols that had been implemented included the installation plexiglass at all stations, extensive sanitation and making every other lane available for bowlers.

Travis Vu, 47, of Anaheim, finishes cutting the hair of client Thuy Ngo outside TravisVu The Salon on Aug. 1.

Travis Vu, 47, of Anaheim, finishes cutting the hair of client Thuy Ngo outside TravisVu The Salon in Fountain Valley on Aug. 1.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Businesses adjust on the fly

Personal care industries like hair salons made significant modifications to their business models to try to stay afloat.

At TravisVu The Salon, customers’ chairs were moved outside and appointments were required. The salon was allowed to conduct business outdoors beginning in late July after securing a permit from the city.

At a time counted upon for business, flower shops like Magnolia Florist could only take online orders and curbside pickup for Mother’s Day.

Volunteers help load Worldwide Produce groceries for 1,000 families during a drive-through food giveaway on July 24.

Volunteers help load Worldwide Produce pre-boxed groceries for 1,000 families during a drive-through food giveaway hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of Huntington Valley at Fountain Valley Recreation Center and Sports Park on July 24.

(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Addressing food insecurity and the need for COVID-19 testing

Restrictions put in place because of coronavirus concerns included stay-at-home orders, which resulted in a loss of employment for many people working in jobs that were not deemed essential.

To address the issue of food insecurity, a food distribution event was brought to Mile Square Park in July. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Huntington Valley put on the food giveaway event, which helped provide boxes of groceries containing dairy products and produce to roughly 1,000 families.

COVID-19 testing was also made available through the 360 Clinic at Fountain Valley Sports Park in December.

A groundbreaking ceremony for Prado, the city's first affordable housing community to be developed in 16 years, on Nov. 16.

Elected officials, including Fountain Valley Mayor Cheryl Brothers, center, and Bill Witte, the chairman and CEO of Related California, to her left, toss some shovels filled with dirt during a groundbreaking ceremony for Prado, the city’s first affordable housing community to be developed in 16 years, on Nov. 16.

(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Construction begins on affordable housing project

Fountain Valley is in the process of adding a new affordable housing community for the first time in 16 years. The project is expected to be completed in early 2022.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Prado community, a 50-room affordable housing project at 16790 S. Harbor Blvd., took place in November and construction was scheduled to begin the following month.

City staff estimate the cost of the project at $29.6 million, which includes both the cost of construction and the reported $6 million it took to purchase the land.

Fountain Valley opted to appeal its Regional Housing Needs Assessment allocation of 4,827 units, which city staff noted in the appeal represented a 352% increase over the 1,372 units called for in the initial draft for the latest RHNA allocations.

Teresa Razo, who is president of the Fountain Valley Restaurant Assn., at her restaurant on May 30.

Cambalache Grill Argentine and Italian Cuisine owner Teresa Razo, who is president of the Fountain Valley Restaurant Assn., at her restaurant in Fountain Valley on May 30. The Fountain Valley Restaurant Assn. put on a fundraiser through GoFundMe. The goal was to raise money toward gift cards from local restaurants, which then were given out to graduating seniors from Fountain Valley’s three high schools.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Fountain Valley Restaurant Assn. supports 2020 graduates

The trials of the class of 2020 after the coronavirus sent students home for distance learning were well documented, especially the loss of senior athletic seasons in the spring and prom, and modified graduations.

Restaurants also faced difficult decisions about staffing and operation as the guidance for reopening did not yield favorable results for the return of indoor dining.

The Fountain Valley Restaurant Assn. attempted to make a difference on both fronts, raising donations that were to go toward gift cards to local restaurants for graduates of the city’s three high schools — Fountain Valley, Los Amigos and Valley Vista.

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