The tents are up, the rides assembled, ready for the Early California Days to start tonight at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Hacienda Heights.
The annual festival celebrates the start of summer, but more importantly this year it celebrates the rebuilding of the local Catholic church.
Funds from the parish’s top fundraiser will go toward a new sanctuary across from Los Altos High School at 1345 Turnbull Canyon Road. The church was destroyed by an April 16, 2011, in an arson blaze that caused more than $8 million in damages, much of which fire insurance will not cover, according to church officials.
The parish has held many fundraising events throughout the years, including car washes, community breakfasts, luaus and casino nights to cover the costs of rebuilding. But Early California Days are by far the biggest fundraiser for the church.
“We made almost $200,000 last year. The community has really gotten behind us to help replace our church,” said Ron Franco, a member of the festival committee. “Former parish members have come from far away just to show their support. We’re hoping for another big turnout this weekend.”
Last June, after waiting nearly 15 months, the parishioners moved into a new interim sanctuary. The sprawling, white structure was erected next to the blackened church beside it. It cost nearly $800,000. Now, they want start on a new permanent home for the congregation.
“We want to start construction of our new sanctuary early next year,” Franco explained. “We’re trying to get all the permits we need now.”
For more information, read Rich Irwin’s story CHURCH.