Large-scale festivities in Islamorada are on hold a little while longer as the village responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, which appears to be improving with new daily cases in the single digits.
Via a 4-to-1 vote, village council voted to cancel events through the month of October during its regular meeting held via Zoom on Aug. 20. Among the notable events impacted is the annual Trunk or Treat at Founders Park, which sees hundreds of families and children retrieving candy from the many decorated vehicle trunks. Organizers of the annual Swim for Alligator recently announced that the Sept. 12 race would be canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The swim will resume Sept. 11, 2021.
Councilwoman Deb Gillis, who brought the topic up for discussion, said it’s not fair to cancel activities a week or two before when organizers have spent time and money to put the event together.
“We are making headway on this virus of getting it under control, but I think we need to make a decision on special events,” she said. “I suggest we curtail any of the events that require temporary use permits or park events from now until Dec. 31.”
While fellow council members were in consensus with forgoing events for the next few months, they weren’t with Gillis when it came to canceling events through the rest of the year.
“I still think If things clear up in November to December, then they can have an event,” said councilman Chris Sante.
The 5th annual Islamroada Half Marathon & 10K, Baconfest & Art Show, Toys For Tots Poker Run, which was held at Founders Park last year, and Holiday Fest are some of the notable events in Islamroada during the final two months of the year. Council agreed to leave the decision of November and December events up to the new dais.
“If it’s a decision that needs to be made at end of October, we’ll make it,” said Vice Mayor Ken Davis.
All village council seats are seeing contests this year with four of the five current members either leaving or seeking other offices. Davis is the only current member on the dais seeking reeleciton.
Acting Village Manger Maria Bassett said the director of parks, Maria Bagiotti, reached out to event organizers and found that none were planning to hold any festivities at the village parks.
Reported positive COVID-19 cases in Islamorada total 55 as of Aug. 31. That number hasn’t increased since Aug 14 when the total number went from 54 to 55.
Council has stayed proactive in limiting large gatherings at parks, beaches and the Fills, from MM 77.5 to 79.8, by closing them off to the public through Labor Day. Founders Park remains open to Islamorada residents and homeowners only.
Councilman Jim Mooney acknowledged that while it’s unforunate people are still passing away from COVID-19, local numbers are dropping quickly. Mooney agreed to leave event cancellations past November up to the next council, as did current Mayor Mike Forster. Gillis was the only ‘no’ vote due to the fact she wished to see all events canceled through the end of the year.