Modified plans for the Pequot Lakes Stars & Stripes celebration will continue, at least for now.

The Pequot Lakes City Council addressed the July 4 holiday event at its meeting Tuesday, May 5, conducted online via Zoom with Mayor James Tayloe and council member Cheri Seils at city hall with City Administrator Nancy Malecha and City Clerk/Treasurer Angie Duus.

“It’s two months away. The direction of this, nobody knows at this point,” council member Scott Pederson said of the COVID-19 situation. “Social distancing is being recommended for the last month or two, which is 6 feet. People could wear masks and be safe. And if you don’t feel safe, don’t come. I think we need to do something for the Fourth and plan for it. And in a month and half, if the world is ending like some people think it is, then we can plan something.”

The Pequot Lakes Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors both the Stars & Stripes and Bean Hole Days events in July, will decide by June 15 whether to proceed with them while considering the community’s safety and health, as well as a potential lack of financial resources.

Katie Wassermann, Pequot Lakes Chamber director, was on the council agenda to talk about both events. The council didn’t address Bean Hole Days, scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday, July 14-15.

“This has obviously been an interesting season of planning,” Wassermann said. “We’re really trying to come up with ways we can still pull off these events, but do it in a safe way.”

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“We’re really trying to come up with ways we can still pull off these events, but do it in a safe way.” - Katie Wassermann, Pequot Lakes Chamber director

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Ideas include taking away traditional activities with more personal contact, like money in the haystack, bed races and a bean bag toss tournament.

Wassermann said the chamber would like to proceed with fireworks, encouraging people to keep their distance from each other or stay in cars. She suggested a parade with more of a community focus with businesses and community members decorating vehicles for an extra long parade through town.

In addition to seeking council input, Wassermann said the chamber was looking into whether its insurance policy would cover people “who come and leave with a party favor - COVID-19.”

Council member Jerry Akerson was the first to speak.

“I have to agree our Fourth of July fireworks - there’s so many people in town that I don’t think you're going to be able to control that crowd. I think that would be very dangerous and reckless for Pequot to pursue that,” he said.

Pederson said it would be premature to cancel the event now. Council members Mimi Swanson and Cheri Seils agreed, saying there’s time to make a final decision.

“I do think we should keep on working on these projects to make sure we’re ready, if and when - we’re ready to have these parades and fireworks,” Swanson said. “I don’t think we should just throw in the towel right now.”

The fear factor is overwhelming at the moment, she said, noting she thinks that will settle down.

“I really feel if people are afraid to come to town they should just stay home,” Seils said. “I think it’s too early to scrap it.”

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“I really feel if people are afraid to come to town they should just stay home. I think it’s too early to scrap it.” - Council member Cheri Seils

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When asked his opinion, Police Chief Eric Klang said: “I think we should plan it like it’s going to happen.”

Wassermann said the chamber’s fireworks provider said almost no one has canceled fireworks shows, including organizations that have canceled parts of festivals.

Sponsorship and the monetary piece will be the most difficult, she said, noting last year around $10,000 was raised for fireworks.

“That will be the biggest roadblock as far as a big fireworks show,” she said, adding if other parts of the event are simplified - like signs and marketing - there likely could still be a pretty good fireworks show.

“I think it’s important to keep the spirit alive,” Swanson said, noting people need something to be happy about.

The council also agreed - at this point - to plan for the summer's city-sponsored Bands in the Park from 7-9 p.m. Saturdays in Trailside Park. Bands are lined up from June 20-Aug. 22.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.