Railing against the ongoing 6-week shutdown of non-essential businesses ordered by Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 15, local merchants and concerned citizens gathered at Solvang Park on Friday afternoon in what was described as a peaceful public rally to support reopening the Santa Ynez Valley.
Despite the warm weather a group of over 100 protesters dressed in red, white and blue and some wearing masks, lined Solvang Park facing outward toward Mission Drive and waved handmade signs reading "Freedom is Essential" and "Freedom Over Fear," for passing vehicles who in response honked in support.
Local resident and rally organizer Breann Hollon, standing in front of an over-sized U.S. flag waving in the breeze, said there are more people out of work than have come down with COVID-19.
"We're out here because the numbers just don't add up. If we don't get back to work, we're going to have a serious, serious problem on our hands," Hollon said. "The states are running out of money. We can't put everyone on unemployment, and even at that they're not getting their unemployment.
"We have people who have successful businesses in lines to get food every day from the food distribution places because they can't go to work."
Mole Hole merchant Harlan Munneke shared on social media that he was planning to attend the non-partisan rally in an effort to help other local businesses like his, to reopen and regain financial footing.
"As a very concerned local Solvang merchant (The Mole Hole), we strongly feel the need for everyone to be able to reopen business now," Munneke stated.