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Don’t let your summer be a bummer

Johnson City Press • Updated May 13, 2020 at 2:33 PM

Another 2020 summer festival was axed on Monday. The town of Unicoi’s Freedom Fest celebration set for July 4 was the latest event to be canceled out of precaution in the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson City already had canceled its long-running Independence day Freedom Hall fireworks show. This spring will be without Blue Plum for the first time in two decades. There will be no Covered Bridge Days in Elizabethton, no Rhododendron Festival in Roan Mountain and no FunFest in Kingsport. TriPride, which was set to take place in Bristol this year, has been indefinitely postponed.

There’s no word yet on Meet the Mountains, Little Chicago or Umoja in Johnson City or the Appalachian Fair in Gray, but it seems unlikely that any festivals will happen this year. Planning a festival — booking vendors and entertainers — with such doubts looming could prove impractical.

Other summer activities also have been affected. Johnson City’s Legion Street Pool, for example, will not open this year. Summer recreation leagues, summer camps and other close-contact activities won’t happen this year.

We’re not using the word “casualties” or “victims” in this column because casualties are exactly what these cancellations are intended to avoid. Large gatherings are just not feasible while COVID-19 remains such a volatile risk.

So we support the organizers’ decisions to forgo this year’s events. These are necessary sacrifices.

But what a bummer. Summer just won’t be the same without the ballpark, fireworks and funnel cakes. Or will it?

Families will just have to make their own fun.

Backyard mini-festivals are in order. Pull out the grill and the cooler. Set up the badminton net, the croquet wickets and the horseshoe stakes. Hook the hose up to the Water Wiggle. Create your own carnival games. Play pin the tail on the donkey and red rover. Hook up the speakers for your smartphone’s music player or better yet, have a family talent show. In the evenings, play kick the can and flashlight tag. Light up the fire pit and roast hot dogs and marshmallows. If you invite friends or neighbors, keep the numbers under 10 and follow precautions.

This was family life in the summer before every mother was a soccer mom and every kid was locked into video games and their phones all day.

This spring and summer do not have to depend on events. They depend on your spirit.

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