Hurricane City Council postpones Peach Days until coronavirus risk level goes green

FILE: Peach Days parade at the annual Peach Days festival, Hurricane, Utah, Aug. 30, 2014 | Photo by T.S. Romney, St. George News

HURRICANE — The Hurricane City Council voted to postpone holding the Peach Days 2020 celebration until the county shifts to the green coronavirus level.

Greg Last, a family medical specialist, encourages the City Council to cancel Peach Days this year, Hurricane, Utah, July 16, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

In the hour before the City Council pre-meeting, council members met with the Peach Days committee to review their plans for following social distancing and other state guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections.

Based on feedback from council members during the council meeting, while the plan addressed the guidelines, there was some worry in its overall execution.

During the public commentary period of the council meeting, Greg Last, a family medical specialist and resident, strongly encouraged the City Council to cancel Peach Days.

“Based on the best evidence we have, holding events such as Peach Days, as much as this cherished celebration represents, can only extend the effects of the virus in our town,” Last said.

Audience members listen intently to the discussion on holding Peach Days, Hurricane, Utah, July 16, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

He said more and more epidemiologists and other experts in the medical field are advising citizens that wearing a mask, social distancing, handwashing and not touching the face are the best ways to slow down and hopefully eliminate the coronavirus.

“This cannot happen at Peach Days,” he said. “There will be no way to social distance, and many will not be wearing masks. Based on what is happening across the country in places where the economy is open, especially in places like Texas, Florida, Arizona — and yes, here in Utah — the number of coronavirus cases are rising rapidly, hospitals are filling up.”

Last compared the way the numbers increased after Memorial Day and the 4th of July to what he suspects will happen with Peach Days.

“I think it’s most likely to expect that if we have Peach Days, that same thing would happen again,” he said, which would only further delay getting things back to normal, he added.

Hurricane resident Megan Heaps expresses her worry about how canceling Peach Days could financially burden many people, Hurricane, Utah, July 16, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

Resident Megan Heaps stood in opposition of canceling Peach Days. She said the impact of canceling Peach Days would have dire economical effects on the livelihood of many.

“I hope every one of you vote for it (Peach Days) because small-town USA is dying, and this so much more constitutional. The next thing they’ll do is pull church. They’ll pull everything,” she said. “All this does is divide us. I can guarantee after the election all of this stuff is going to go away. This is more political than anything.”

David Stirland, executive director for Peach Days, said he wanted to make clear that he is not against having Peach Days. He’s concerned with having a “safe Peach Days.”

“I’m not confident that we can. However, with that being said, if the City Council feels like we can have, with members of the Peach Days committee, a safe event, we’ll have it. I’m not confident we can just based upon the events we have at Peach Days,” he said.

Holding the parade and seating arrangements for outdoor entertainment were just a few of the events he mentioned would be difficult under the current restrictions.

From right: Kevin Tervort, Mayor John Bramall and Nanette Billings. Bramall voices his opinion, Hurricane, Utah, July 16, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

Jarolyn Stout, a Peach Days committee member, said that as a committee they addressed all the state COVID-19 guidelines.

“I feel like we addressed all of the state COVID guidelines. And I agree with David, it’s going to be hard. You can’t force somebody to do that, but I also feel pretty strongly that people are able to choose for themselves. If they’re very afraid, they can stay home. I actually think we’ll have a lower number (of visitors),” she said.

Stirland then asked the City Council if they would allow the Peach Days committee to hold an event when the state or county goes green.

Both Stout and Stirland said they supported whatever decision was made.

Mayor John Bramall said he thought the plan the Peach Days committee came up with was workable, but also said he wouldn’t be able to come because it would put his wife at risk.

After a brief discussion, council member Nanette Billings made a motion to hold Peach Days according to the guidelines outlined by the committee. Joseph Prete seconded the motion.

All other council members voted no.

David Sanders then made a motion to postpone Peach Days until the county goes green and then hold a proper celebration. This received unanimous support.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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