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Akron cancels traditional downtown July 4 fireworks display, Lock 3 concerts, & summer festivals due to coronavirus

Planning is currently underway to possibly host several small fireworks shows throughout the city to keep the July 4 celebration alive.

AKRON, Ohio — Lock 3 is a summertime staple of downtown Akron, but things will be much different this year at the popular outdoor venue.

City officials announced Wednesday that many of the annual events and festivals hosted at Lock 3 will not be held in 2020. This includes all city-sponsored events with an expected attendance of 250 people or more scheduled before Sept. 7.

Among those events that have been canceled is the annual July 4 fireworks display based at Lock 3. City officials say they are working on creative ways to keep the celebration alive.

“One example is the idea to create smaller fireworks shows across the city on July 4, to replace the traditional large Independence Day celebration at Lock 3 downtown, which has been canceled for 2020,” city officials said in a press release. “Tish Jernigan, Downtown Operations Manager, came up with the idea and has been working with the Akron Police and Fire Departments to develop a plan.”

These are the other events that will NOT take place in 2020:

  • Friday Night Rock the Lock Series
  • Lock 3 Saturday Night Concerts
  • Kids Festival (would have been held June 20)
  • Rib, White and Blue (would have been held July 1-4)
  • Italian Festival (would have been held July 9-11)
  • African American Festival (would have been held July 18-19)
  • Taste of Ireland (would have been held August 8)
  • Pizza Festival (would have been held September 4-6)
  • The annual Akron Arts Expo (would have been held July 23-26).
  • Sunday Akron Symphony Orchestra concerts

The following city-sponsored events remain subject to postponement or cancellation, based on public health guidelines and available resources. The city is examining ways to safely host:

  • Late Night Basketball
  • Lock 4 Blues and Jazz
  • Lock 4 Gospel
  • Lock 3 Beer Tastings
  • Lock 3 Movies
  • Cascade Food Trucks
  • Summer Concert Series in the Park
  • Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival

RELATED: What is the plan to reopen Ohio? Here's what Gov. Mike DeWine is saying about barbershops, salons, retail, amusement parks and more

“Ohio Governor DeWine and Health Director Dr. Acton have publicly indicated that large gatherings will be the last wave of activity to be opened back up,” Deputy Mayor for Integrated Development James Hardy said. “After lengthy discussion with state and local health officials, we determined that it was not tenable to plan large, close-quarters events for this spring or summer, as those would likely still create an unacceptable risk of spreading COVID-19. Additionally, it will be necessary for the city to put in place public health protocols for programming that does occur this summer, including wearing cloth masks and achieving good physical distancing. We want to give our staff, performers and fans timely information so they know what to expect and how to plan.”

You can check www.akronohio.gov/COVID19 for the most up-to-date information as announcements are made regarding future events in the city of Akron.

“As we look to an uncertain future with respect to this virus, the city must make decisions now,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “As we considered how to hold events and support the community this summer, the conclusion to postpone festivals and Lock 3 programming was a very difficult decision, one we certainly did not welcome. These events are important moments in our community that we look forward to each year, and it is a significant loss to forgo these celebrations. But we knew 2020 was going to be different, and large gatherings are unlikely to be safe for some time. The health and wellbeing of our residents, customers and staff come first. We look forward to welcoming the public back to Lock 3 when the time is right. In the meantime, we will be creative in how we engage and entertain the community this year.”

City officials say they are working to plan for alternative programming, recreation and entertainment in ways that maintain safe physical distancing.

“Currently, the city of Akron community centers are scheduled to reopen for core operation on June 1,” officials said. “The Recreation Division is planning to move forward with summer camps at the community centers and open the outdoor pools and splash pads at Joy Park and Patterson Park on June 8. (The Patterson Park splash pad is currently under construction and will be operational by that date.) Finally, the city is working with Akron Public Schools and the Ohio Department of Education on how to move forward with the Summer Food Service Program to ensure access to essential nutrition for students and families in need.”

City officials maintain that all events that Akron hosts or sponsors are subject to cancellation based on public health guidance as well as the availability of needed resources – including funding, any necessary protective equipment and staffing.

“Events hosted or sponsored by private community groups, requiring city property or permits, have been canceled through June 1, and future events are subject to cancellation based on then-current public health orders/guidelines as well as the individual group’s decision whether to proceed,” city officials said. “To inquire into the status of specific runs, walks, privately-sponsored events and fundraisers, please reach out to individual organizations.”

Priorities for Mayor Horrigan and the Office of Integrated Development for recreation and community programming in 2020:

“My priorities for programming will be to maintain access to parks and playgrounds, community centers, and pools, as long as we can do so in a healthy and safe way,” Mayor Horrigan said. “Our urgent hope is to find a safe and healthy way to host smaller community events, where individuals can practice social distancing and access proper hygiene resources. However, large close-quarters events, like Lock 3 concerts and festivals, present too great a risk to the health of Akronites at this time.”

If dramatic changes occur in the public health situation, including the widespread availability of a COVID-19 vaccine or universal testing, the city will re-evaluate these guidelines at that time. But those circumstances do not appear possible in the coming months.


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