By Randy Arrington
The 54-year tradition ran strong in the committee members as they talked their way through the guidelines of the governor’s phased reopening and held on to hope that things may swiftly improve for the better regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
After 30 minutes of discussion, one committee member summed it up well: “We’re still in the same place we were… between a rock and a hard place.”
A contract with the carnival provider has committee members still holding out hope and trying to buy time before making a final decision on the July 4th time frame.
With Virginia currently just a few days into the first phase of reopening, and the second second phase still limiting gatherings to 50 people — it is unlikely that the state will reach the third phase of reopening in time for Stanley’s annual Independence Day festival. In addition, while the third phase of reopening may not limit social gatherings, there has been no state guidelines set for large public gatherings such as festivals, parades, amusement parks, concerts and sporting events.
“There will be no such thing as social distancing,” one committee member noted of the homecoming’s festivities, including carnival rides and games spread out over several days. If homecoming can not happen on its scheduled days, the event will likely lose the ability to hire a carnival.
Committee members discussed several variations for a revised festival — without a carnival, fireworks only, music and local vendors only. The option of only offering fireworks for the Fourth was not supported by the Stanley Council or the Homecoming Committee, as each group cited the fact that the Town of Luray will be offering fireworks.
Then the question of timing for homecoming was discussed. And while all committee members acknowledged they would likely not be holding the annual event during its traditional dates, they all expressed a desire to have some form of homecoming between July and September.
“I would like to do something,” said Mayor Mike Knight, who also sits on the homecoming committee.
After realizing their options were limited and not coming to a general consensus, the committee did agree on Monday night to delay a final decision on the fate of homecoming until May 28.
The Stanley Homecoming Committee will meet again at the Stanley Fire Hall on that date at 6:30 p.m. to render a final decision — at least on the July 4th time frame.
“We don’t lose anything by kicking it down the road,” committee member Mark Stroupe said of delaying a decision another 10 days.
On March 25, the town and the homecoming committee canceled the third annual Spring into Stanley event (originally scheduled for April 18 at Ed Good Park). The event was originally launched to help raise funds for the annual homecoming festival in the summer.