Brookfield made it a clean sweep when Village President Kit Ketchmark announced during the May 11 village board meeting that festivities on the Fourth of July – both the parade and the picnic in Kiwanis Park afterward – would be canceled due to the continuing state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
North Riverside and Riverside had previously announced their parades and related Independence Day events were off this year.
But, that was just the start of summer event and program cancellations in Brookfield.
In addition to the July 4 events, the Parks and Recreation Department has scrapped its outdoor concert series through at least the end of June, and more cancellations could follow depending on whether or not the governor eases some restrictions on public gatherings.
Recreation Director Stevie Ferrari said an entire summer’s worth of musical acts had already been booked, so the series could resume without any hitches if such events will be allowed later this summer.
“Depending on the bands’ availability for what we have had to cancel in June, we may be able to set a reschedule date for end of August,” Ferrari said in an email.
However, Ferrari cautioned that any concerts in Kiwanis Park would only be allowed if the state had moved to allow gathering of more than 50 people – essentially the final phase of the governor’s Restore Illinois plan.
Right now, that seems unlikely.
“We really do need to get to the complete and full reopening with no restrictions for any certainty on if we will be able to hold our community events this summer,” Ferrari said. “Even under a 50-person maximum for any events, this is hard to monitor in our larger, free events like concerts.”
Summer camps in flux
The Brookfield Parks and Recreation Department’s popular summer camps, meanwhile, have been thrown for a loop.
Camps scheduled through June 26 have been canceled, even if the stay-at-home order is eased on June 1. If the order is lifted, said Ferrari, that will give time to train staff about not only the department’s usual protocols, but new ones related to COVID-19 safety.
Seasonal staff that have been hired for the summer, but their employment is contingent on programs being able to operate. No new seasonal staffers have been hired, Ferrari said.
Even if some camp programs are allowed to move ahead, Ferrari expects there to be strict participation limits, and the village will not be able to use facilities at either Riverside-Brookfield High School or S.E. Gross Middle School for programs, she said.
“There are 3 to 4 different versions of how events, programs and camps can be run depending on where we are at in the state’s ‘phase,'” Ferrari said. “We continue to have roundtable discussions with organizations in the recreation field to align best practices to safe guidelines and attend any informational meeting we can to help us guide in decision making.”
Despite the lack on in-person summer camps and programs, the department has rolled out a host of virtual programs – both paid and free. Information on those programs can be found at the village’s website at brookfieldil.gov.
The department has also rolled out a virtual summer camp program, which it is calling Camp in a Box and will be held over three one-week-long sessions beginning June 8 for kids ages 3-12.
Participants will be sent camp materials, such as art supplies for craft projects, a camp T-shirt and a schedule of activities, before the start of each session.
“Seasonal camp staff have already had a virtual Zoom meeting to discuss what June looks like as well as their role in providing virtual instructions to campers,” Ferrari said. “They will be scheduling another meeting [this] week to add to specific planning activities.”