Riverside will be able to host its weekly summer farmers market beginning Wednesday, June 17, but officials are canceling or significantly altering other summer events, Village President Ben Sells announced last week.
During the village board’s meeting on May 7, held by teleconference due to the COVID-19 state of emergency, Sells announced that the village’s Independence Day events, including the July 3 Concert in The Park and the traditional Fourth of July parade would not be taking place this summer.
“We are now operating under the governor’s Restore Illinois plan, which is a five-phase process,” Sells said. “We are currently in Phase 2.”
Sells noted that the state won’t be able to move ahead to Phase 3, which allows gatherings of 10 people or fewer in public spaces, until May 29, at the earliest.
As a result, the village will not be holding its traditional Memorial Day ceremony at the end of May, and the Riverside Chamber of Commerce has scrapped this year’s monthly Cruise Night car shows on East Burlington Street.
The earliest the state might move to Phase 4, said Sells, would be June 26, when gatherings of up to 50 people would be allowed. Even at that, he said, that would preclude holding such densely populated events such as the July 3 concert and July 4 parade.
As far as returning to “normal,” Sells said, “As the governor has pointed out, we cannot realistically think about that happening until we either have a vaccine or a treatment for the virus.”
Decisions on whether to hold later summer events like Riv-Inia and the September Car Show, Sells said, could be made on a rolling basis as the summer progresses.
The Riverside Parks and Recreation Department, meanwhile, confirmed to the Landmark that the farmers market is still on.
Details on exactly how the farmers market will operate are being finalized, said Recreation Director Ron Malchiodi, who is expected to outline them for trustees at their next village board meeting, scheduled for May 21 at 7 p.m.
Trustee Alex Gallegos expressed some concern about holding the farmers market at all, but said he would withhold judgment until Malchiodi revealed the operational plan later this month.
The Parks and Recreation Department has canceled the Independence Day 5K run, which traditionally takes place on the morning of July 4 prior to the parade. Malchiodi, however, said the department is planning to hold a “virtual” 5K event, although there were no details immediately on what that would look like.
The kids’ Fishing Derby, which had been scheduled for June is being postponed, but could be held later this summer depending on state protocols for gatherings.
According to Sells, Malchiodi is working with police and fire officials, as well as with the volunteer group Friends of the Fourth to possibly hold a virtual July 3 concert to be broadcast on Riverside TV and a stripped-down July 4 “parade” that would include a few emergency vehicles and perhaps a band performing on a trailer.
The tentative plan is for the vehicles to wind through the entire village, allowing residents to enjoy the procession and show their appreciation for the village’s first responders from the safety of their front porches. The village might also encourage residents to decorate their homes to brighten the day.
Trustee Edward Hannon said that whatever the village decided to do with a modified July 4 parade, officials needed to be “hypersensitive to crowds” and not do anything to encourage residents to throw parties that day.
“As we determine whether to have this parade or not, keep in mind that … the parade traditionally brings in former Riversiders, families, families from out of town,” Hannon said. “And, I just want to be sensitive to doing all we can to discourage anything other than people standing outside of their houses as this parade for first responders goes by.”