By the Whitewater 4th of July Committee
You may have noticed that as a committee we’ve been pretty quiet the past few months when normally we would have been shouting from the rafters how awesome Whitewater is and what a tremendous tradition this celebration is for our community. Like many event organizers around the world we’ve been cautious and making tough decisions about what is best as well as what is safest for our community.
Parade participants initially received an invitation to the annual 4th of July parade as the committee was optimistic that by June we’d have emerged from the health crisis and would be ready to move on; we were wrong. Parade participants also received a follow-up letter that the parade had been cancelled. Similarly our service organizations and churches didn’t hear from us as we hoped they’d be able to participate; again we were wrong. In May we also sent notifications to their organizations that the food vendors would not be part of the festival.
By this point we knew that as many small communities do, there was a tremendous amount of speculation about what was or wasn’t happening. Just as many cheered the thought of the festival not happening in 2020 as were saddened. The committee continued to meet. The committee discussed safety, guidelines, phased reopenings, the absence of a Safer-at-Home order and blueprints for reopening. On June 8 we met as this was the point of no return for our decision making for this year. And there are some things that we want to make sure that you understand about that process.
- As a committee we make decisions together; this was no exception.
- When we initially invited parade sign ups – our bands were the first to tell us no. Over the course of a month when we would have had dozens, we only had six registrants. We made the decision to cancel the parade in part because of that and also in part because we were unable to obtain a parade permit as the situation evolved.
- Our new park amphitheatre was delayed by the Safer-at-Home order in Michigan. It arrived more than a month late for installation and is unlikely to be ready for use for another 4-6 weeks.
- Most of the festival relies on volunteers, many of whom are in vulnerable populations who may not feel ready to volunteer in the same capacity yet.
- Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, CDC, local and state health departments provide guidance for the means by which any number of industries can operate as safely as possible.
- Each part of the festival was evaluated independently on the safety of its occurrence as well as other factors.
- As much as we all may be tired of hearing it, this is our new normal and as a community we need to find ways to stay safe but also enjoy life.
That last point is a crucial one to note. 2020 will look different. We hope that 2021 looks more like what we’ve come to love about the festival. We are also now prepared to announce that there will be fireworks on July 4th at 10 p.m. This would not be possible without the ongoing support of DLK Enterprises and the Coburn Company. There will also be a carnival. This would not be possible without the full commitment of the Christman family and their support of following industry guidance for the safe operation of a carnival/amusement park.
From the community we ask your commitment to the following:
- Wash your hands.
- Stay home if you are ill or have been around someone who has been ill.
- Practice social distancing guidelines – there will be reminders posted; this may include wearing a mask at times.
- Be kind. We understand that now is not the right time for some to end their safer-at-home practices, and we appreciate that the decision to attend or not is a personal one.