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What's Normal is New Again
March, 2021 - Issue #197
Compound word, two parts. First part: that one brand of beer that has a crown on the label and that you push a wedge of lime into. Second part: microbe that makes you sick, much smaller than bacteria. Figured it out? That word first appeared in print here exactly one year's worth of issues ago and I have no intention of marking the grim anniversary by writing it again. For while all our lives have been changed - often with inconvenience, sometimes with unforeseen silver linings, and too frequently with tragedy - the grip may be loosening. Getting back to normal is finally underway.

Fun Allowed
As lovely as it is to play online games, bake bread and watch the backyard bird feeder, a little more excitement is in order. Six Flags Magic Mountain is ready to deliver. They recently tweeted, "We've missed you! Are you ready for thrills this year?" and promised a re-opening this spring, complete with signature rides. The park's tweet got over 1,300 likes. I'm sure it would have gotten more given that the park not too long ago pulled in 3 million visitors a year, but people probably didn't want to jinx things. Additional support for Magic Mountain has come from the SCV Chamber of Commerce, which is pushing for the reopening of theme parks with the hashtag #ReadyToRideSafely. I would have gone with #MakeCoastersCoastAgain, but the sentiment is the same.
In other fun developments, the City Council worked out a plan with American Sports Entertainment Company and Los Angeles Kings ice hockey to run what was Ice Station Valencia. The City has spent millions to ensure that there's a patch of ice in sunny Santa Clarita. If fun and spending go hand in hand, then count on lots of both. There's no opening date just yet.

"It's as if everything is coming together JUST IN TIME for school to let out for summer break."
Delayed Education
One day in March of 2020, SCV students went into a classroom for the last time for what grew and grew into a very long time. Small numbers of kids have since gone back, but the vast majority have not. That's not normal. Much has been changing to bring school back. Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital vaccinated large numbers of school staff and faculty beginning in early March as part of a campaign to prepare and protect educators. The Hart School District boasted about providing a HEPA filtration unit in every classroom. It's as if everything is coming together just in time for school to let out for summer break.
While in-person education lags, sports have started up again in earnest, even contact ones. Modifications include health screening and testing for athletes, masks and mostly-empty stands. Still, most students are willing to put up with these changes for a chance to compete in their sports. For students who cherish other traditions, like prom, graduation ceremonies, or even AP and standardized testing, official guidelines on how these events will proceed aren't quite finalized, though there's little reason to be optimistic. School is disappointing both students and parents, which seems normal enough.

Olympic Toll
The Thirteen Colonies wanted their independence from a big, distant, controlling England. In Santa Clarita politics, we tell our own version of this beloved revolutionary tale all the time. We're the colonies, and it's LA County or the State of California that want to unfairly impose their will on us. The reason this framing of politics works so well locally is because it's not infrequently true. The journey this past year has been rocky and confusing, and Claritans haven't been the ones at the helm.
But while much dismay has been related to business challenges, school shutdowns and confusing public health guidance (See: Governor Newsom recall effort.), a new type of grumbling signals a return to normal. The Santa Clarita City Council sent LA Metro an angry letter about the roads - and that's quintessential SCV. Specifically, the Council is opposing Metro's plans to use toll roads or "congestion pricing" in the LA area. These would be implemented in order to reduce traffic and raise funds as the 2028 Olympics approach. The tolls would doubtless impact Santa Clarita commuters. As we return to normal, Claritans will still heart driving their cars on freeways that are free, from SCV to LA and back again.
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions and catty comments intended for the author can be e-mailed to iheartscv@insidescv.com.
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