CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – Many local leaders are taking the first steps in looking at the summer months and how their events will impact people in the midst of COVID-19.
“This was not an easy decision but with great concern for our participants and our community, we felt it just isn’t safe at this uncertain time to have throngs of people, elbow-to-elbow on the Green,” the Canfield Fourth of July Committee wrote in a letter to the community.
For over 50 years, Canfield’s Fourth of July parade has drawn tens of thousands to the Village Green and S. Broad Street.
“We’ve always loved seeing the faces of the people enjoying the parade, the kids on the kids’ games. It’s always been a huge plus for us,” Claire Neff said.
This year will be different, thanks to the lingering coronavirus pandemic.
“We don’t think it’s the right thing to do with the amount of people that we get on the Green every year for the Fourth. It would have been a little overwhelming, to say the least,” Neff said.
Canfield joins what’s been a growing number of communities canceling or postponing July 4th events, including Struthers, Howland and Austintown.
In Hermitage, the annual Summer Arts Festival set for July 11 and 12 has also been canceled. Organizers decided Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home guidelines will still prohibit large gatherings.
“We believe that we’ll still be in the ‘yellow’ phase and even if we aren’t, we needed to take action now,” said Ed Chess, parks and recreation director.
He said organizers are still trying to find a way to salvage this year’s event.
“We are kicking around the idea of having some type of drive-in movie and fireworks. That would be it. No vendors, no food.”
For now, Neff and her team of 10 or 12 volunteers are setting their eyes on an even bigger celebration for July 4, 2021.
“It’s a weekend event next year, we think,” she said. “We’re not just limited to just one day.”
Still, many other events organizers are taking a wait-and-see approach and watching what new guidelines may come out of the governor’s office over the next month.
Ohio’s safe-at-home order expires May 29. Restaurants can reopen for outside dining May 15, while inside dining begins May 21.
For more information, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.