Record editorial: Arts festival makes right call, and it’s time for City Hall to do the same
The middle of summer will be less vibrant.
On Thursday, the Park City Kimball Arts Festival organizers announced this year’s event will not be held due to concerns about the coronavirus. Doubtless, the decision was painful. The arts festival is among the most treasured events of the year, delighting attendees and serving as a crucial avenue for artists to make money and gain exposure.
And after one of the most challenging springs in memory, few Parkites couldn’t have used the lift that gathering with friends and strolling Main Street during the festival would have provided.
Alas, the Kimball Art Center unequivocally made the right call.
As beloved as the arts festival is, now is not the time for unnecessary risks. True, the number of new coronavirus cases in Summit County has remained relatively stable over the last couple of months despite the easing restrictions.
But that can change quickly.
Disregarding the advice of health experts and holding a mass gathering — even a scaled-down one — where the coronavirus could spread would be reckless, especially considering the festival typically brings in hordes of people from the Wasatch Front, where cases continue to surge and where people seem to be less strict about wearing masks and taking other precautions.
That’s also why City Hall should nix the annual Fourth of July parade on Main Street and the associated festivities in City Park. Officials, though, have been noticeably quiet about their plans. At a City Council meeting Thursday, the elected officials indicated they’d address the holiday next week, leaving residents in limbo about what, if anything, will be on the Independence Day slate.
Given concerns city councilors recently expressed about the prospect of the arts festival going forward this year, and the Marsac Building’s support for coronavirus-fighting restrictions, it’s hard to imagine the city not either scrapping the Fourth of July celebration altogether or proceeding only with activities that allow for social distancing, like a fireworks show.
But with the holiday just two weeks away, the lack of official word from City Hall is perplexing.
The Kimball Art Center should be proud to join the Park Silly Sunday Market, the Tour of Utah, the Park City Institute and others in sacrificing popular events for the health of the community. And we’ll applaud City Hall if and when it does the same, even if the announcement comes somewhat belatedly.
Editor’s note: Though City Hall has made no formal announcement regarding the Fourth of July celebrations, Park City Manager Matt Dias addressed the topic during the June 18 City Council meeting, saying “we have no intention of doing a large, mass gathering. … Dare I say, it’s going to mean no parade.”
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Our view: Time is of the essence. Unless we rein in the virus now, we and the rest of Utah will be in for a harrowing winter, a fright fest that will be all too real.