Hoping town events happen in 2020

Jun 29, 2020 by

Published in the June 29, 2020 edition.

By MARK SARDELLA

WAKEFIELD — As we enter a summer where major events like the town’s July Fourth celebration with its parade and fireworks have been canceled due to COVID-19 fears, the Wakefield Community Partnership is hoping to put on some kind of community event later this year to provide a much needed lift for businesses and something for residents to look forward to.

To that end, John Ross of the Wakefield Community Partnership (formerly the Event Planning Committee) met with the Town Council last Monday to get their feedback and guidance on the possibility of a running a two-day event over a yet-to-be-determined weekend later this year.

“We wanted to seek your guidance and receptiveness on a united, multi-organizational activity for the benefit of the townspeople and the businesses in Wakefield,” Ross said. “We have reached out to many organizations, and we have yet to develop specific plans. What we are hoping for tonight is your support of a two day event starting 6 p.m. and ending 10 p.m. on a Friday and resuming at 11:30 a.m. and ending 10 p.m. on Saturday. Furthermore we would like to suggest a few dates and options for a shutdown area, in the interest of gaining your approval.”

Ross said that the WCP was suggesting the following weekends as possibilities: Sept. 25 and 26, Oct. 16 and 17 or Dec 4 and 5.

Ross also laid out possible areas for where activities could take place, including Main Street from Lincoln Street to Yale Avenue; Albion Street from Main to Foster street (or possibly to North Avenue); the Lincoln Street Parking lot; and Main to Crescent on Water Street.

Depending on the time of the year, a shift of the activities further towards the Veterans Memorial Common area could be an option, Ross said, but would limit exposure for some businesses. If the use of the Common is preferred, Ross suggested closing Main Street from Chestnut Street to Crescent Street, closing Common Street along with the use of Veterans Memorial Common.

Ross said that of course any event would follow with whatever public health guidelines are in effect at the time.

Councilors asked several questions about the types of activities planned, but Ross said that nothing was set in stone and the WCP was simply trying to get the discussion going.

“If we don’t get it going, we run the risk of losing the year,” he said, adding that the WCP was prepared to be flexible in terms of the timing, length and area of any event.

Ross said that WCP had been in contact with a number of groups about participating, including the West Side Social Club, Wakefield Main Streets, the Rotary Club of Wakefield, The Chamber of Commerce and the Wakefield Independence Day Committee.

Town Councilor Edward Dombroski said that he was all in favor of supporting businesses, but the question was how to go about executing a community-wide event like Ross was proposing. Dombroski suggested checking with Health Director Ruth Clay and Emergency Management Director Thomas Walsh to get their thoughts.

Other Town Councilors also expressed concerns regarding the health risks of a large-scale event.

Chairman Ann Santos and Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio agreed with the ideas of bringing Clay and Walsh into the discussion and Maio agreed to set up a meeting with all parties.

Town Councilor Jonathan Chines suggested trying to come up with a smaller scale event that would not involve a large number of people in one place but would provide an enhanced opportunity for residents to enjoy what the town has to offer.

Santos suggested something along the lines of the old Sidewalk Sales that were popular downtown events in years past.

Ross said that he was open to the idea of meeting with Clay and Walsh and then coming back to the Town Council at their July meeting to further discuss options.

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