Summer events still up in air

Local officials are awaiting Gov. Bill Lee’s ruling at the end of this month that will affect summer events, like Wet and Wild Wednesday.

Summer fun will be different this year.

The question of how different it will be is still up in the air as Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has not issued any specific guidelines yet concerning recreation like movies, sports or social gatherings.

The deadline for the expiration of the governor’s orders concerning outdoor activities and sports where people gather is May 29. But the governor’s office said they are still monitoring the situation.

“Such venues/activities must remain closed until May 29,” said Gillum Ferguson, spokesman for Lee, said in an email. “The Economic Recovery Group has not released formal guidance on these yet but we are monitoring the health data closely to determine when it is suitable for such venues to reopen.”

Because of COVID-19, Lee ordered many Tennesseans to stay at home, starting in April. He has since relaxed some of the guidelines for several businesses and issued guidelines for how to safely operate.

Currently, the governor’s guidelines call for groups of no larger than 10 people gathering together.

Venues or activities that still have not received guidelines include movie theaters, sporting events, festivals, amusement parks or basically any activity that could include a large gathering of people.

But many local officials said they are cautiously proceeding forward with some plans.

While other Little Leagues have cancelled their seasons, including Hamblen County, the South Jefferson Little League has posted on its Facebook page that it will start its season on May 30, the day after the governor’s order ends.

The league, which is in Jefferson County, said it will hold team pictures and baseball and softball tournaments throughout June. It is unclear how or if the league will enforce social distancing for fans or players.

League officials did not return calls.

Jennifer Gentry, program coordinator for the city of Morristown’s Parks and Recreation Department, said they are cautiously looking at summer programing.

“We’re working on our summer schedule,” she said. “Of course, it is pending.”

The parks and recreation department usually does Starlight Movies during the summer. She said one option the city is looking at is possibly doing drive-in movies.

The city also hosts Wet n’ Wild Wednesday, where children get to play in water, and also a Kids Fun Fair.

She said those activities may still continue, but they may have to mark places for social distancing and have more volunteers than usual to help monitor.

Gentry said the city will work closely with the Hamblen County COVID-19 Task Force.

“We’re just going to have to wait for the task force to update us,” she said.

Another popular summer activity has been the Music on the Green series that started last year at Farmer’s Market.

Katie Ragan, executive director of Crossroads Downtown Partnership, said all concerts have already been cancelled until August.

Panther Creek State Park has also announced it would close its pool this summer.

The Mossy Creek Foundation hosts several music and outdoor movies series in Jefferson City.

While events are still listed on the group’s Facebook page and Web site, Heidi Thomas, president of the Mossy Creek Foundation, said that does not mean they will happen.

She said in a lot of the events they hold, they average more than 100 people attending, so she’s not sure how social distancing will work with large groups.

She said the June events may be cancelled. It will just depend upon the guidelines.

“As soon as we get the OK, it’ll be back on,” she said.