CRESWELL – The Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors announced May 14 that it was canceling the annual Fourth of July Celebration amid public safety concerns and Gov. Kate Brown’s executive orders, The Chronicle first reported this past Wednesday on its website.
It is the most recent Chamber-sponsored event to be canceled or postponed, and the public statement came one day after Mayor Richard Zettervall sent an email to the Chamber board pleading for a final decision.
“I am very concerned!” the mayor’s email stated. “The silence from the Creswell Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors is deafening.” He encouraged the Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors to meet and inform local media outlets of its decision. “It’s the right and fair thing to do and also needs to (be) done ASAP!”
Mayor Zettervall’s letter stressed the fact that the annual holiday event impacts so many people.
“This is the Chamber’s biggest event of the year. Thousands of people travel from all around the region to come to Creswell to enjoy the July 4th Celebration. This is the Chamber’s responsibility to make the decision and to distribute it far and wide.”
Late the next night, Monday, May 14, Chamber board president Raina Napper issued an email statement to board members, the mayor, City Manager Michelle Amberg, and The Chronicle:
“It is with great regret and sorrow that the Chamber board of directors must announce the cancellation of the annual Creswell 4th of July celebration. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we have no choice but to take this drastic step.
“The well-being and safety of our community members is paramount. At this time we want to thank all our annual sponsors, our volunteers, and the support of our community. This event could not happen without all of you.”
Jack Pippen, who has overseen and executed Creswell’s fireworks show on behalf of Western Display Fireworks for decades, said he wasn’t aware of the decision until contacted by The Chronicle on May 17.
“I hadn’t heard … That’s unfortunate. We were looking forward to the show down there,” he said. “I’m not surprised, but you’re the first to tell me. We’re sad about it, too. Our family will probably still come out and have a gathering. We just won’t have fireworks.”
Amberg, who has been a prolific communicator with residents via the City’s website and Facebook pages regarding public health and safety issues during the pandemic, said Tuesday that no one had applied for a parade permit, so far. “If someone would like to have a block party or organize a parade I would encourage them to get in touch with the City,” she said. Amberg noted that there are permit requirements.
Napper had announced on April 3 that the annual citywide yard sale would be canceled. The community yard sale annually takes place on Mother’s Day weekend.
Chamber officials also had announced the cancellation of its annual awards banquet, where volunteers, businesses, community leaders and student scholarship winners were recognized. Chamber board members decided to solicit public input for the awards, and had planned to announce winners even without the banquet.
The Chamber relies on revenue from the Transient Room Tax (TRT), a surcharge on tourist dollars, for most of its budget. It also generates revenue from fundraisers as part of the citywide yard sale, annual awards banquet, Fourth of July Celebration, and a winter holiday lights event.
Stay-at-home orders and the closure or limits on dining-room service has brought tourism to a virtual halt, and the Chamber’s budget has felt the consequences, Napper said.