'Up Front' Gets Answers on Decision to Cancel Harrisburg July 4th Festivities
May 26, 2020 10:40AM
By Jason Huddle
Story Image Courtesy: Michael A. Anderson Photography
Jason Huddle 00:00
Welcome to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, a presentation of Cabco Media Group and sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Cabarrus Arena and Event Center,Cabarrus Eye Center, Certec Automotive, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, New Hope Worship Center and Walk Cabarrus. I'm your host Jason Huddle.
Jason Huddle 00:25
Welcome my friends once again to another episode, episode 60 if you can believe it, of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. I'm so thrilled you're here today. At the end of last week's program, I reacted to the breaking news that the Fourth of July festival had been canceled in Harrisburg. Obviously, this is a big deal for many people who have grown up around this area. And the Fourth of July has become a tradition like many holiday traditions that we have. So I took time at the end of last week's program too address this and kind of give my opinion, but I didn't think it was fair for me just to kind of monologue about this situation without giving the town of Harrisburg, specifically Parks and Rec, who puts on the festival, the opportunity to address why they made the decision and talk about what their plans are in lieu of that decision. So I've invited on to the program today, Daniel Steins with Harrisburg Parks and Rec, he is the director of the Parks and Rec department and he's going to be online with us today. We're going to be talking to him about the Fourth of July festival cancellation, how they came to that decision, and what are they planning to do in lieu of the festival. So all that is coming up in just a few minutes. But first, we have a shameless plug time. I'm very pleased to tell you that next week, our first printed edition of Cabarrus Magazine since March will be hitting stands and will be available online. It's called back in business facing our new normal. We have some informative information about the fatigue and the mental stress that being in isolation can cause we have an inspiring story about a local business here in Cabarrus County that has done a lot for the community. And no sooner did they write a big check to Cabarrus County Schools than the shutdown happened and they were told basically, they had to either close up shop or drastically change how they were going to do business. So we're going to present them to you and also in a first for Cabarrus Magazine. We are going to release an opinion article typically we stay pretty neutral when it comes to the political climate. But these are extreme circumstances and these are extreme times and so we have decided, we are going to release an opinion piece. Now it is an opinion of the author. It is not necessarily that of the magazine or Comfort Publishing, certainly not necessarily that of its advertisers. But regardless, we felt like it needed to be out there anyway, just to ask some questions, really, just to kind of get your your thoughts going about what we have given up in the name of safety. I'll just leave it at that. You guys will have to wait for the new edition to come out. But I promise you, this one is definitely going to be worth reading. That having been said, I will say from the bottom of my heart that you know, after 20 years of doing a magazine, you kind of take each month for granted and they all kind of start to run together. But this one is special, never before have we been faced with the decision to not print a magazine because of circumstances like this. In fact, the only other time that we have gone without printing the magazine was for one issue back in I think it was 2003. So that's how long it's been. We've come out with an issue of the magazine every month for almost 20 years. So this one is very sweet for us. It's it's sort of a coming out of the storm issue for us. And I hope you take it as such. That having been said don't forget to go to Cabarrus Magazine dot com and continue to do so to get all your latest up to date news and our restaurant guide will still be active through June 1. As we are now progressing into phase two of reopening. I think everybody can kind of figure out who's open and who's not and who's allowing for dining so we are going to keep that restaurant guide updated through June 1 but after that we will resume our normal programming at Cabarrus Magazine dot com. Make sure you keep checking that out. We appreciate your support through these last couple months and that's enough sappiness and it's certainly enough shameless plug time. Okay, when we get back we will have Daniel Steins from Harrisburg Parks and Rec on the line to talk about why they canceled the Fourth of July festival. Stay tuned.
Jason Huddle 06:44
Welcome back to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. I am privileged today to be talking to Daniel Steins. He is the director of Parks and Rec for the town of Harrisburg and first of all, Daniel, Thanks for coming on the program today.
Thank you for having me Jason.
Jason Huddle 07:00
So Daniel, let's get right to it. A lot of people feel strongly on both sides about the cancellation of the Fourth of July festival. This is something that as someone who has grown up in Cabarrus County, I have participated in for many, many, many years, myself, both as a member of my high school band to other organizations I've been a part of, and and even the last several years as the magazine just having a car in the parade. So I know what a big deal this is. I've been a part of the festival and just able to watch that and see how that has grown. The festivities of the park the parade everything. So I know it came as a great disappointment to many people. When the announcement came down, this will not happen this year. And I know that people as I said are upset on both sides. They are well some are very much in support of this decision, others not so much. So can you take us through that thought process? Because I know that you guys didn't come to this decision lightly. So can you take us through that thought process of why this festival was ultimately canceled?
Daniel Stines 08:14
Sure. I think that's a good, you know, description there that you kind of pinpointed is it certainly wasn't a decision we made or took lightly and it was certainly one that was made with disappointment in our hearts to, you know, staff members. We have some staff members, for instance, my assistant director, Shawn Marble, she's, she's been with the town for, you know, going on over 10 years now. And she's been running this event for, you know, a decade. So you know, the people that are in charge and things we do, take every event with extreme pride for this community and for the county. The situation we're in here is very similar to a lot of what everybody's having to deal with. First and foremost, the town of Harrisburg, didn't counsel, July for the event, the July 4 celebration for Harrisburg, and (inaudiable) was canceled. And that was really geared around the governor's orders, if you're familiar, and we encourage everybody to get on the governor's website and, and refresh and review those phases to get an understanding of how we were more or less, you know, forced in our decision because right now we're just in phase one. That doesn't enable any mass gatherings. In fact, many businesses aren't even allowed to open at this point. This week, this coming Friday. We're slated to go into phase two, but we're not even certain that's going to happen. No information has been put out about that. So even in phase two, we've still got another minimum of three to four weeks within that phase that still doesn't enable any sort of large gatherings. And then at that point, you're in phase three, where we're in the most lenient of the phases. But even within phase three, that's going to be a minimum of three or four more weeks, we would be in that phase for an additional three or four weeks. That doesn't allow mass gatherings as well. So at the at the calculations that we were looking at, very, very best case scenario, if everything was going to according to the governor's wishes, and we were opening our phases and closing them on the most expedited amount of times and most optimistic printing We would have been at the very end of June, with a very short turnaround to make any decision on July forth so with that, and what it takes for us to start gathering in large groups. And I think that's what we want to kind of emphasize as well as that the festival on July 3 and fourth is one component of the mass gatherings or gatherings more than 10 gatherings more than even 50 for that matter is the amount of staff and the amount of people who have to gather in order to offset the event. We have a very large, in fact the largest amusements company in the southeast. With this project, we had some very large band scheduled, we have fireworks, we have a lot of vendors, we have a lot of a lot of items and details that bring a lot of people to the park and to the area where we would be not operating in compliance with the governor's order. So our hand was more or less forced in that it's not something that we, we wanted to do. And we did try to review all aspects of it, being a possibility to pull this off, but it just, just didn't - the writing was on the wall for us.
Jason Huddle 12:21
Let me let me start in just for a second Daniel and ask you this question. Because I know a lot of people have asked me this question. I didn't have any answers. I'm not privy to the conversations you guys have had. But what about those that would say, Well, you could have been preparing for this. And then if all the stars aligned and we got into phase three, before July 4, then everything would have been in place and you could have just executed. Was that not a realistic possibility?
Daniel Stines 12:50
It was a possibility, but not necessarily what we would deem as a realistic one and the realistic one would be in the regards of being fiscally responsible, or the money that's involved with this event. So we have to be mindful of the, again, the amusement company, the fireworks company, the band's the the companies who helped put on the performances and all that they have schedules and livelihoods. And there's deposits involved. And we were in a position where making the decision 30 days out or whatever would allow us to at least salvage and reschedule and those agencies work with us versus time them has a very 11th hour and then just canceling, there would have been 10's of thousands of dollars, just lost without the opportunity to do any scheduling and those kind of things in an assistant. That's just the way a lot of these companies kind of work because they have to kind of schedule out and schedule ahead. So it was based in centered around a lot of that as well to award us an opportunity to push some of our deposits forward or reschedule so that they may be able to find or doing an event elsewhere. Because there there are, again, these companies we work with are, are not just local and regional. They're, they're nationwide. So there are many states who were having a lot more relief in their, you know, pandemic measures and those kinds of things where events are going to, you know, happen and those folks can bid and they can reschedule and do other things. So just out of fairness, and in those discussions with them. That was that was part of the decision as well.
Jason Huddle 14:37
Stick around for part two of our interview with Daniel Stines coming up right after the break.
Jason Huddle 16:23
Let's talk about what next. I just happened to drive down to Harrisburg park the other day just to see how the progress was coming. And let me tell you, if you haven't been down there, it's gonna be completely changed. Like everything is so different and I know that we're looking forward to later on in the year reopening that park. I know there has been talk of maybe taking what would have been the July 4th parade festivities and kind of putting that into the park opening. Is that still accurate? Is that still the hope?
Daniel Stines 16:55
That's kind of a hybrid of what we decided is Just as you say, I mean, we're about to put out a video this afternoon. If you follow us on the town's Facebook page or Twitter, or visit our website, I went out and did some GoPro footage last week, just to give our first real live walkthrough. It's about a three minute clip that just kind of takes you through some of the park progress as we're at today. And I'll tell you, you know, I'm this country's number one fan. I'm as much of a independent celebration guys as you're going to find. But despite not having that event, the reality is the grand opening us Park is coming around the corner too. And we're just as excited about that as well. We were able to salvage some of the deposits and negotiate with some of the couple of the companies the amusement company and the fireworks company to push back to a later August early September timeframe. To enable us to have sort of a mini celebration, if you will, it won't quite be on the scale is July 4, obviously. But for our local community our Harrisburg Barris residents who traditionally come out and celebrate this type of event or festival with us or just come out, enjoy our park in general, we still wanted to have the opportunity of reintroducing that park with a bang, and bringing the community together and some excitement and some enjoyment. We know everybody's been shut in for quite some time. And when this does lift, everybody's gonna be looking for, you know, some fun, and something local to do. So, we wanted to do that. It is a super exciting time. I can't wait to see kids on the playground and just things like that. It's it's a phenomenal part. And it is something to be very much excited about. So you are correct. In the end, what we were able to do with some of the companies that will be sort of what we're calling a mini celebration And a grand opening of Harrisburg Park. And that's to be determined as a slated timeframe of late August, early September is what we're looking at.
Jason Huddle 19:10
And what exactly is the website where people can go see that footage and I assume get more information once decisions have been made on dates and things like that.
Daniel Stines 19:18
Yeah, so a good place to follow information not only on our events, things like that, and arts is obviously on Facebook, just look up Town of Harrisburg. And then that'll be a good place to follow us on updates. And we put Park updates, we put event updates and all those things there. Our website is HarrisburgNC.org and you can go under the tab of departments Park and Recreation. And then there's a projects page that I've built that has not only Harrisburg park but a couple other projects we're working on. And you can actually see all the timelines we've put up a monthly reports with photos. Since the started the project, you can kind of see sort of how the projects are unfolded. The video that I'm putting up will be located there. So just just a plethora of information available on the website. And a good place to find out what we're doing. Our events tab also keeps you informed on what we're doing on a day to day monthly basis. And again, our Instagram account is also Town of Harrisburg, and good places to keep in track with it.
Jason Huddle 20:26
We'll make sure we put all that in the show notes as well, listener, so go ahead and check that out. Before I let you go, Daniel, let's talk about the rest of the summer. Harrisburg has really stepped it up over the last few years in establishing programs and events for people to come out and enjoy as a community. Obviously this summer is looking a little different. Are you still planning on doing some concerts in town square later on in the summer, or is that everything kind of in flux right now?
Daniel Stines 20:56
I won't go as far as everything in flux. I mean, obviously You know, we're we're really just tracking these governor orders, right? I mean, we're all kind of in the same boat here and under the same mandate. So until we can get into this phase three, which we're feeling optimistic that things are going to, you know, really kind of turn a turn a corner here in the coming weeks. You know, data trends are kind of all over the map. But, you know, as they're up and testing and things like that, you know, we're going to start seeing some some different kinds of that, but this Friday will be a good tale tale of what direction we're heading in when Governor Cooper comes out with his update on what he's going to do in terms of moving to phase two, but our intentions, we're going to register for fall sport starting June 1. We're moving straight in just to planning as if everything is going to add. We're obviously not going to have anything for the month of July due to the July 4 event being canceled. But we are looking into August. And that would be, you know, our our grand opening is what we're hoping, which would include concert and some festivities. We're working with our partners and stuff to schedule some fall and late summer movies in the park at our new facility. We're looking at doing some things with the town center, and the Art Walk and stuff like that. So we're still going to be gearing up and planning our fall and late summer stuff, just as we always have. And we're adding programs every every month. It seems we got some new programs that we've just introduced, but we had to unfortunately, postponed due to the COVID-19 situation. We'll be bringing those back out. We've got mountain bike programs coming out and some other things. So I would just encourage folks to kind of just keep in track with us on Facebook and on our website. We do have a lot A lot going on and we are going to continue to deliver on those services, our intentions to not let up and just be here for the community.
Jason Huddle 23:08
Daniel Stines, with the Harrisburg Parks and Rec department. Thank you so much for being on the program today shedding a little light on this decision to cancel the fourth festivities, and we look forward to further announcements when we get back open. Thanks for spending some time with us today.
Daniel Stines 23:25
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Jason Huddle 23:26
Absolutely. You guys stick around. We will be back in just a few minutes after these words from our sponsors.
Jason Huddle 24:46
I do want to thank Daniel Stein's for being on the program today. While I certainly understand his position, my disappointment is still there. And that's not on him that's not on the people of the town of Harrisburg. For the parks and rec department, I don't want them to feel like I'm coming down to them at all, because I know that they are doing the best they can. And I certainly know the people down there that they wanted to bring this festival to fruition just as much as any of the residents in the area. So I know this was not their first course of action choice. And I certainly know that it pains them to cancel a festival that is so important to many, many people. I am very excited that we are progressing into phase two, I've been very vocal about how we need to get this economy back open. I know some of you hate me for saying that. And I know you think I just want to put bullets in people to make an all mighty dollar and that's certainly not the case. And anyone who thinks that about anybody that says reopen the economy is short sighted, in my opinion. But that being said, I am excited Phase Two is reopening. I know I've talked to some restaurant owners in the area and they are itching to have people in the restaurants. Please go support them go support businesses. I know hair salons are going to be able to reopen on a limited basis go support your local stylist, I have no doubt that they will have very little trouble getting business in the door. I know my hair looks ridiculous after. Actually it's been about three months since I've had a haircut. So it's it's pretty bad. Hopefully governor Cooper will stay on course and we will be in phase three. And out of all the phases by the end of the month, and we can progress with our own summer. I know that one of the organizations that was especially hard hit in this community was old courthouse theater. Many of you are familiar with Old Courthouse Theater, it is a community theater run completely by volunteers all the actors are local. All the stagehands, directors, everybody, they all do this because they love the theater and they want to bring shows to this community. They were supposed to have produced Mamma Mia! In fact, this past weekend would have been the closing weekend for Mamma Mia!, which is a big coup. They were excited to bring it to Concord and have a great show and they were going to sell out. There's no question. Unfortunately, that didn't work out. So the theater has essentially been dark most of this year. That is tough for a community theater that depends on ticket sales, and donations to keep itself going. That having been said, I am very pleased to announce that on next week's program, the President of the Board of Directors, Will Baysinger will be here. And we will be announcing the new season of Old Courthouse Theater and you do not want to miss it. It is going to be a fabulous season. I wish I could just blurt out right now, what the shows are going to be, but that'll have to wait till next week. I'm very excited about this upcoming show. And I'm frankly, I'm excited to do a show that doesn't directly have to do with COVID-19. I don't know about you, but I'm kind of sick of the subject. But we will talk about all that stuff next week. You have been listening to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, a presentation of CabCo Media Group and sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, Cabarrus Eye Center, Certec Automotive, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, New Hope Worship Center and Walk Cabarrus. Please remember to support those that support us. I've been your host, Jason Huddle. Until next week, go dine-in somewhere!
Harrisburg 4th of July: Cancelled!