It’s a very different summer in Pine City, and Freedom Fest – Pine City’s annual celebration of summer and America – is going to be very different too, due to restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic.
But organizers are trying to make the best of things. And there is talk that at least one of the most beloved parts of the event could be returning later on this year.
“We’ve had to make some adjustments to what we’d normally offer,” said Pine City Area Chamber of Commerce Director Becky Schueller, Gathering limits don’t allow us to have any of our activities onsite at the Pine County Fairground. So, unfortunately, that means no car show, no street dance and no fireworks. But ... we have several activities we are hosting.”
Those activities include a Residential Decorating Contest, a Classic Car Cruise through Pine City neighborhoods, for homeowners to show off their patriotic spirit, a Kids Coloring Contest for children from preschool to age 12, a #ShopLocal Bingo activity to promote and support local businesses, and other activities with community partners — including the Medallion Hunt from WCMP Radio.
For more information, see Page 3 in this week’s Pine City Pioneer.
No fireworks now, but...
Schueller said that current state health guidelines connected to the COVID-19 pandemic would have required those viewing fireworks at the Fairgrounds to stay inside their vehicles – something that would be impossible to guarantee.
“There’s just no way to manage and get people to stay in their vehicles,” Schueller said. “And if you don’t have a sunroof, watching fireworks from inside your vehicle isn’t really the best.”
However, Schueller said she and Chamber officials hope that there will be a Pine City fireworks display in 2020.
“We haven’t necessarily taken fireworks off the table for a future community event this summer, or later this fall,” she said. “We recognize that the fireworks are a really cool activity, and our community loves them. But we just want to do things in a safe way, and for the safety and health of the community, June 27 just wasn’t a possibility.”
The Chamber has tried to work with local businesses during the COVID-19 shutdown to share restaurant pick-up menus online and promote programs that support the Pine City business community..
“ Now that we’re moving into re-opening and being able to gather again, I think there’s an increased importance in our Shop Local initiatives,” Schueller said.
She also said she has plans to help businesses decorate their storefronts for Freedom Fest.
“I’m hoping businesses will respond to that and bring together the town,” She said. “It’s nice to get out and see that community response in a positive way.”