WATSONVILLE—The city of Watsonville has canceled most of its annual events slated for this year because of the ongoing pandemic, Mayor Jimmy Dutra said Friday evening.
The events canceled include the Spirit of Watsonville Fourth of July Parade, The Fire in the Sky Firework show at the airport, Wheels at Watsonville Car Show and the Strawberry Festival, Dutra said on his Facebook.
In the post, Dutra said he was “extremely upset” that the city did not take the “wait and see approach,” and that socially distanced and drive-thru events should replace the traditional yearly celebrations. As an example, he said a drive-thru fireworks show should be organized for the community.
“People would be socially distanced in their cars and still be able to enjoy the show,” he wrote. “I will continue to push for this loved community experience and hope other council members see the importance of such an event. Mental health is affecting so many of our community members. We as a City should be making sure we put the community on our shoulders. That’s our job!”
The city also canceled all of its events last year after the novel coronavirus began its spread across the county in March 2020.
Parks and Community Service Department Director Nick Calubaquib said in a press release Tuesday that the city will instead continue to provide alternative events that meet Covid-19 guidelines. Some of those include Shamrock Virtual 5k, Easter Egg Delivery and Scavenger Hunt, Music in the Park and the drive-thru Santa Tour.
“Our community has been disproportionally (sic) affected by this pandemic. Traditional, mass gathering events may put our community at increased risk,” City Council Member Francisco Estrada said in the press release. “Although our top priority is continuing to manage the pandemic, we also recognize the importance of these shared traditions and celebrations for our community. I am confident that City staff and community partners will work to again plan alternatives to celebrate our community events in safe and creative ways during 2021. I urge my fellow residents to stay the course and follow all guidelines. We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”