Park City Miners Day celebrations canceled, a disheartening end to summer
The organizers of Park City’s annual Miners Day celebration have canceled the parade, the mucking and drilling contests and the other activities at City Park, a disheartening cap to a summer marked by a series of other event cancellations in an effort to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Park City Rotary Club, which puts on the event, noted the decision was made out of caution. The Miners Day celebration is held annually on Labor Day and honors Park City’s silver-mining heritage. The day includes a parade from Main Street to City Park and the mucking and drilling contests at City Park, where miners compete against each other in two of the industry’s key skills. Miners Day has long been seen as being more locally focused than the Independence Day celebrations two months earlier. Candidates in City Hall and County Courthouse campaigns oftentimes see parade entries as the traditional start of the fall politicking.
The Running of the Balls, which raises funds for area not-for-profit organizations on Miners Day, will be held virtually.
“It’s important for us to put community health over celebration this year,” the president of the Park City Rotary Club, Corrie Forsling, said in a prepared statement. “It’s just a one-year pause of a celebration that began over a century ago. But, most importantly, we still need to use Miners Day as an opportunity to support our local nonprofits.”
The Miners Day celebration dates to the late 19th century, with the first event held in June of 1896, according to the Rotary Club. Silver mining drove the economy for decades before collapsing in the middle of the 20th century with a drop in prices. The ski industry rose in ensuing decades to succeed mining as the economic driver.
Park City, though, has paid tribute to the mining days throughout the skiing era, preserving silver-mining relics, naming places after mining-era locations and using the mining era as a subject for artworks like the bronze miner on Main Street. The Miners Day celebration stands as one of the most notable ways the era is marked.
The cancellation of the Miners Day celebration was announced after a string of other events were scrapped for 2020. They include the weekly Park Silly Sunday Market, the Park City Kimball Arts Festival, the Fourth of July parade and fireworks and the Tour of Utah bicycling race. A series of other cultural and sports events were also canceled. It seemed likely in recent weeks the Miners Day celebration would be greatly altered or outright canceled as the coronavirus continued to spread, but it was not clear when organizers would finalize the decision.
The event cancellations and the overall drop in the tourism industry have resulted in a difficult stretch for many Park City-area businesses, including some of the places on Main Street. Park City leaders opted to pedestrianize Main Street on Sundays in the summer and early fall in an effort to attract people, but there have been mixed results across Park City as the final month of the summer-tourism season arrives.
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Sales-tax collections in Park City in July beat City Hall projections by a wide margin, providing a key data point that illustrates a nascent economic comeback of sorts from the spring business shutdowns.