As the city of Caribou begins planning its most popular summer events, including Thursdays on Sweden Street, officials hope the covid-19 pandemic will not cause the level of disruption they saw in 2020.
CARIBOU, Maine – As the city of Caribou begins planning its most popular summer events, including Thursdays on Sweden Street, officials hope the covid-19 pandemic will not cause the level of disruption they saw in 2020.
Last year, the majority of summer events returned due to the abolition of worm mandates and audience restrictions and the increased number of vaccinations. If all goes well, noted Caribou Parks and Recreation Superintendent Gary Marquis, Caribou could see audience sizes of more than 1,000 instead of the 500 or 600 that were more common last summer.
“A lot of people were still worried about covid last year, and rightly so,” Marquis said. “I hope we get to see a bigger audience this year.”
But the rapid spread of the omicron variant has already become a concern for Marquis, his colleagues and other event volunteers.
Although omicron has become known for less serious covid disease, an outbreak can still affect companies that sponsor and participate in events such as Thursdays or the Caribou Cares About Kids activities.
“If a company has several employees who are sick, they may not be able to participate,” Marquis said. “This new variant will weigh heavily on our plans. We will not be able to predict what will happen.”
Despite the uncertainty, the Parks & Recreation department continues with the summer planning and looks forward to taking back Thursdays on Sweden Street and possibly expanding other events.
The city-wide farm sale is scheduled for May 14 and 15, and registration is expected to open within the next month or so, Marquis said. Parks & Recreation is also partnering with Troy Haney of Haney’s Building Specialties to plan weekend events around the Caribou Cares About Kids parade that will be “bigger than in previous years.”
A notable change will be the absence of the Caribou Marathon in September. The city has chosen not to be a qualifying spot for the Boston Marathon due to reduced participation from runners.
Although the first Caribou Marathon in 2016 featured more than 400 runners, the number has declined since then, the Marquis said.
“There’s a lot of money and planning involved with such an event, and the number of runners was simply not where we would like to see them,” the Marquis said. “Even before COVID, the numbers declined.”
But at the moment, the city’s officials are moving forward with plans for what they hope will be a relatively normal summer, one that will include Thursdays on Sweden Street in its name place.
Last year there were short talks about moving the popular and often crowded event to another venue.
“If COVID really gets worse, we would cancel [Thursdays] completely, regardless of location, Marquis said. “No one knows for sure what will happen, but now we plan to be on Sweden Street.”