The Richfield City Council grappled with the issue of what to do with the annual Independence Day celebration during a meeting May 12.
“This whole situation is like trying to put together a puzzle without a picture,” said Mayor David Ogden. “We hear things from doctors, and they are different, but based on their own research.”
With a myriad of different opinions on what should be done, Ogden said it’s difficult to know what the right answer is.
On one side is the concern that a large gathering of people could contribute to a spike in COVID-19 spreading, while the other side is that eliminating the Fourth of July festivities would be damaging, both to commercial viability and the spirit of the community.
“We are all feeling the yoyo effect of being told one thing, and then another,” said Kevin Arrington. Arrington is a former city council member, and still serves on the city’s Independence Day committee.
“What does the Fourth look like under the yellow canopy,” Arrington said. He said things like the open swim at the pool, the fish grab and having hundreds of people on the city park may have to be out.
“The other question is if we make it to green by June, how quickly can we put it together,” Arrington said. “Unfortunately, the new normal is not just business as usual. It’s more disinfecting, and more cleaning.”
Pageants are already scuttled, meaning that a new Miss Sevier County and a new Miss Richfield won’t be reigning over the parade.
However, the current Miss Richfield will ride on a float, said Connie Nielsen, council member.
“My concern is the expense of putting together a float,” Nielsen said. She said if businesses commit to creating an entry, invest the money to do so and the parade is cancelled, it becomes an undue burden.
“I had someone tell me they want to host a 30th class reunion, but not if we aren’t having anything,” Ogden said. “If someone asks if we are having a parade, what do we tell them?”
The answer is “yes,” but what form the parade takes is something that will develop in the coming weeks, Arrington said. In any case, the throwing of candy and other giveaways during the parade will not likely be permitted.
“There are 60 to 70 entries usually,” Arrington said. “Is 30 enough?”
“We may have to go back to basics,” said Kip Hansen, council member. He said a smaller parade may have to be a necessity this year.
“I hope when it’s done people will see we did what we could with what we had,” Ogden said.