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2017 Old Settlers Grand Parade (July 29, 2017). Photo: My Ferndale News

City event permits canceled through August due to COVID-19

FERNDALE, Wash. — City of Ferndale staff spent the better part of this morning, Wednesday, April 15th, contacting event organizers to let them know event permits through August 31st were being recalled in response to a recommendation from Whatcom County Health Department Director Erika Lautenbach to minimize the spread of COVID-19 disease.

The move will result in the cancellation of this year’s Whatcom County Old Settlers Picnic events, the Ferndale Street Festival and city-organized summer activities along with all other large gatherings and events including those scheduled at Pioneer Pavilion Community Center.

Lautenbach issued a letter yesterday to community leaders around Whatcom County recommending all summer events, including parades, community festivals and fireworks displays, be cancelled.

Modeling presented by the Health Department on April 13 indicate Whatcom County is “on the downside of the first wave of COVID-19 spread locally.  Scenarios suggest that with continued social distancing, the next wave could be mitigated as well. However, if group gatherings resume too soon, the virus’ spread could be deadlier.

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“I recognize that this recommendation creates considerable disappointment,” said Lautenbach. “However, the long-term health of our community and our economy could be further damaged if we move too quickly to resume the activities that we know will put us at risk.”

Press release from Whatcom Unified Command (April 14, 2020)

Whatcom County Old Settlers Association President Lynda Lucas said, “We are all heartbroken but it’s the right thing to do. We want everyone to be safe.”

Lucas said this is the second time the Old Settlers Picnic has been cancelled, the first occurred in 1942 due to the United States involvement in World War II.

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Ferndale Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Anya Milton said the decision impacts two of their events, including the annual Ferndale Street Festival.

Milton said they had already delayed their March Flower Basket Fun Run to April but realized even then it would likely be canceled. This meant the $12,000 budget for the downtown flower baskets, installed for several months each year, would have a $5,000 shortfall this year. In response, according to Milton, Chamber Board members representing the following businesses provided the missing funding:

  • BPOC Services
  • Kirk Dechert – Farmers Insurance Agency
  • Plain English Technology Services
  • Sara Fassett of Rockwood Realty

“We are still trying to come up with a means to install the flower baskets while practicing good social distancing,” Milton said. “Volunteers in the past have been able to put up all the baskets in a couple hours. It may be more like a couple days or more this year.”

City of Ferndale Communications Officer Riley Sweeney said he expected events hosted in other cities around the county to be cancelled in similar fashion as well.


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