CITY BEAT: DOWNTOWN’S ‘SOUNDS OF SUMMER’ SILENCED FOR THIS YEAR
I was looking through a few of last year’s editions of the Decatur Tribune, and, although I was looking for something else, I couldn’t help but notice all of the events that we routinely cover each year that have been cancelled and/or postponed this year.
One article was about the Decatur Celebration and everything involving it including the fight to keep it going. Of course, there was no Celebration this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
My office has been downtown since long before the Decatur Celebration started, so I have been here for all of them. This was the first year that I couldn’t walk a block or two and get about any kind of food imaginable, and digestible. Of course, it was all calorie free just for that weekend or that’s what everybody told me. There wasn’t any chicken and rice, taco salad, elephant ears or funnel cakes for me (or anyone else) being sold this year.
The recent weekend when the Decatur Celebration would have been held was very quiet downtown — no crowds, no sounds of music or scents of food could be seen, heard or smelled. Next year’s Decatur Celebration will be held Aug. 6-8. We’ll have plenty to celebrate (and eat) then when (hopefully) COVID-19 is a chapter in our past. It may draw the biggest crowd ever downtown!
• IT’S NOT only the big events, like band concerts, county fairs and so much more in the Decatur and Central Illinois area, it is also a lot of club and church meetings that are missing, or greatly changed, this summer.
Of course, countless meetings and events connected to area high schools and colleges have been cancelled. Even in-person learning has been cancelled in some schools. As we move towards autumn and fight the battle to subdue COVID-19 we will continue to miss a lot of what has been routine in our lives — for all of our lives, and the life of our community. As one person told me, what we once considered “boringly routine” looks awfully good right now.
I can’t help but wonder, if when all of this is over and we move back towards a more “normal” life, a lot of people negatively impacted by this pandemic will look back on it, much like our parents looked back on the Great Depression. There will be a greater appreciation by many for the simple things in life and that will affect their view of life itself for the rest of their lives.
Hopefully, we will be a better nation coming out on the other side — much better than we are demonstrating to be during this year of national division.
• NO SQUIRRELS — Thanks to long-time friend Bob Sampson, each summer we’ve printed reports on all of the Rock Springs Ground Squirrels Vintage Base Ball games and we have almost since the beginning of the league many years ago. This summer, due to COVID-19, the Ground Squirrels suspended their 2020 season, but are planning to return next year for the 2021 season.
Maybe the absence of so many activities and events that we have enjoyed over the years will cause some people who are always complaining “there’s nothing to do in Decatur” to see, we have a lot to do in Decatur during a “normal” year. That’s probably a bit much to hope for isn’t it?
• DISTURBING trend — The increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Macon County over the past few weeks is disturbing, not only for health reasons, but because of where this may be heading in terms of the economic impact in our business community. For those who mistakenly believe that COVID-19 infections in Macon County are only happening to senior citizens, according to the Macon County Health Department the greatest number of infections is in the 20-29 years old age bracket and the second highest number of infections is in the 30-39 years old bracket with 40-49 and 50-59 years old the third and fourth highest number.
Those in the older age bracket are more likely to die once infected, but those infected in the younger age brackets are likely to have post-COVID-19 health issues with heart, lungs, kidneys, etc, for as long as the rest of their lives —not to mention infecting older members of their families.
• CANCELLED — Monday evening’s (Aug. 10) Decatur City Council Study Session on the Financial Implications on City’s Budget Due to COVID-19 / FY 2021 Budget Planning was cancelled due to the need for the mayor and council to have more time to read and digest all of the material presented by the city manager and staff for consideration — which will result in some extremely important discussions and decisions ahead.
From the material in the packet that I’ve read, it presents a pretty bleak picture of the city’s finances because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic — and the tough decisions that will have to be made as we move ahead. It’s better to delay the study session so all members of council can be totally prepared to discuss and analyize the rough road ahead. The material in that packet is painful to read.
• STAY SAFE and keep others safe by your actions.