The Falmouth Board of Selectmen voted unanimously on Monday, April 27, to cancel almost all special events in town through August 31.
“These are going to be really unpopular decisions, as these are events that are so cherished,” selectmen chairwoman Megan E. English Braga said. “Every single one of us, when we look at this list, these events are very meaningful to many of us. These are absolutely part of the fabric of our community, and the people who organize them are some of the most impressive and selfless volunteers. Not to mention, a lot of these organizations fund-raise and raise funds that go to a lot of important causes and needs in our community.”
The decision cancels more than 40 events, including 4th of July fireworks, the Falmouth Walk, the New Balance Falmouth Road Race, the Arts & Crafts Street Fair, and the Falmouth Village Association bike parade.
A number of events, including Spring at Spohr, the Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride, the Arts Alive Festival, the June Jog and the Falmouth Classic Car Club’s June Classic Car Show, were canceled by event organizers prior to the board’s vote on Monday. Other organizers were considering postponing their event until September or were not ready to make a decision.
“I think, at the end of the day, a few are reluctant to make that difficult call, a call that needs to be made in the best interest of public health,” Town Manager Julian M. Suso said.
Selectman Samuel H. Patterson said town officials need to provide guidance to event organizers.
“Realistically, there is just not enough immunity in our population to expect this mitigation of infections to do anything but just simmer along and keep popping up,” Mr. Patterson said.
“When I look at this list,” Ms. English Braga said, “I don’t see how these large events can realistically take place in July and August.”
Mr. Suso said the organizers of several events, including the Pedals to Parcels, the Walk for Hope, the 4th of July fireworks and the Arts & Crafts Street Fair, are considering September dates.
“That is about the time that hopefully, if everything comes together, our schools will be beginning once again,” Mr. Suso said. “That bodes a little bit of a risk that we would want to discuss with [Health Agent] Scott McGann and our board of health about the possibility of rescheduled major shoulder-to-shoulder events just at the onset of the Falmouth school term, and whether we are rolling the dice in doing so.”
He said town administration was awaiting further guidance from Governor Charles D. Baker Jr.
Gov. Baker on Tuesday, April 28, extended the stay-at-home advisory from May 4 to Monday, May 18.
Selectman Douglas C. Brown said the board should issue a blanket cancellation of all special events but allow event organizers to present to the board plans for alternative events that comply with local and state guidelines.
Ms. English Braga said selectmen could create a policy for event holders, giving them guidance should they seek permission to host a modified version of their event from the board. Assistant Town Manager Peter Johnson-Staub said this policy should require the event comply with the governor’s order.
“Given the order in place now, none of these events are feasible, and we are in the dark as to what gatherings will be allowed in June, July or August,” Mr. Johnson-Staub said.
The sole event not canceled was the Falmouth Farmers Market, which runs every Thursday at Marina Park throughout the summer.
“You could make the argument that fits into essential services,” Mr. McGann said.
The decision impacts some town-run events as well, including the annual Memorial Day ceremony. The town is looking at alternative ways to offer tribute, including a virtual ceremony. The Falmouth Police Department will not host its annual Peace Officers Memorial Day ceremony. Officers will place a memorial wreath at the Falmouth Police Department Memorial Wall, located just outside the police station on Main Street.
Police Chief Edward A. Dunne supported the decision to cancel these events.
“We have been giving it a lot of thought in the police department, and at this point, I would be recommending that pretty much most or all of our summer events need to be canceled or postponed to the fall,” Chief Dunne said.
After the selectmen’s decision on Monday, Cape Cod Fairgrounds decided to cancel the Barnstable County Fair, which was scheduled to run from from July 22 to 28. All other events scheduled to be held at the fairgrounds through August 31 have been canceled or postponed, as well.