The Richfield City Council, like a lot of elected bodies, is facing some very tough decisions during the next few months.
Council members are in the unenviable position of having to decide what to do with the community’s Independence Day celebration.
What is usually an upbeat and happy decision-making process has become a heart wrenching one. If Richfield City were a living entity, the Fourth of July may very well be its soul.
Generation after generation of people who have lived in Richfield remember the Fourth of July celebrations of their youth. Hundreds, and by some estimates, thousands of people come to the community to experience a small town Fourth. These celebrations create memories, build moral and generate pride in both one’s community and nation.
People enjoy celebrating their freedoms and the uniqueness of being Americans. The United States isn’t a race, creed, religion or even geographic location. At its core, the country is an idea — individual liberty.
The Independence Day celebration is a highlight in the region.
It is a time for both formal and informal reunions as classmates reunite and catch up. Families also host reunions, as camp trailers and tents can be seen set up around town as people return home to visit.
However, the COVID-19 situation is putting a damper on this year’s celebration.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist for Utah during a briefing last week. “We are not going to be able to prevent the spread of disease until 60 to 80 percent of the population has immunity to it.”
Dunn said herd immunity is key — whether that comes from a vaccine or a natural progression of the disease through the state’s population.
Utah has the youngest population of all states, and as such is has the least vulnerable population. The problem is that the state has to balance the need to slow the infection with the need for normalcy to return.
Several communities have already cancelled their Fourth of July festivities.
The state and region may be in the green phase of recovery by the time July rolls around. Or it may be in the yellow. Or the region may experience a spike in infections, and be back in the red.
There is no way to know for sure where the state or the region will be in two months.
Unfortunately, community leaders have to make decisions on the information they currently have.
Right now Richfield City is looking at a scaled back celebration — no races, no fish grab, no booths on the city park, no Liberty 5K and an emphasis on family groups isolating from each other.
The city is planning on a parade, albeit likely a scaled back version. The fireworks will happen. There will likely be some other activities announced in the coming weeks.
No one wants to see a resurgence of COVID-19 in the region. No one wants to be unsafe.
However, if things keep being cancelled, if life is never allowed to return to normal, any celebration of our freedoms will feel hollow. People may begin to question what freedoms they have when they can’t host a reunion, participate in a pageant or meet up with old friends while watching the beautiful chaos of a diaper derby.
Hopefully the worst case scenarios will not play out and the celebration can be held as fully and safely as possible.