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EDITORIAL: Southington cancels Apple Harvest Festival

EDITORIAL: Southington cancels Apple Harvest Festival

What a year 2020 has been — and it’s not even halftime yet. Schools have been closed for months. Millions of people are still out of work. Most sports are at a standstill. So many events that would be happening in an ordinary year have been canceled or postponed, all because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meriden's Daffodil Fest was canceled. Wallingford's 350 Jubilee has been put off until next year. The Durham and Berlin fairs will not be held. Even Relay for Life had to be replaced with a “virtual” event this year.

And now we learn that the Southington Town Council has voted unanimously to cancel this year's Apple Harvest Festival, because of health concerns and uncertainty over whether the state will allow large gatherings this fall under Gov. Ned Lamont's executive orders.

Was that a reasonable decision? Only time will tell. But given the governor’s very cautious approach throughout this crisis, it would make little sense for Southington to bet against Lamont on this important matter.

Before voting, councilors discussed whether to attempt a scaled-down festival, but Michel DelSanto said he wouldn't want to hold an event that left people disappointed.

"The last thing I want is the shell of the Apple Harvest Festival," he said.

The council also voted last week — this time along party lines — to ask Lamont to allow immediate reopening of Southington businesses and organizations, with the six Republicans voting for the resolution and the three Democrats against.

Chris Palmieri, the minority leader, said the town should abide by the governor's timetable. “I do see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

The next glimmer of light will arrive Wednesday, when Lamont said Connecticut will be “opening up about 95 percent of our economy.”

Hotels, bowling alleys, amusement parks, nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms, and fitness centers are among the types of establishments that will be allowed to reopen Wednesday. Restaurants will also be allowed to serve patrons indoors, but with strict social distancing in place.

Whether that adds up to “about 95 percent of our economy” is difficult to calculate. Bars and nightclubs are not yet allowed to resume business, but Wednesday will still mark a big step in Connecticut’s “reopening.”

Lamont calls this “a calculated risk,” but explains that “the percentage of people testing positive has been going down.”

However things turn out, no one will soon forget 2020. Not as bad as 1816, perhaps — “the year without a summer,” when parts of North America and Europe suffered crop failures after snowfall in June, freezing temperatures in July and a killer frost in August — but 2020 is certainly one for the history books.

Call it “the year without fun.” Let’s hope we never see its like again.

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