(May 2020) – I’m planning to take part in the virtual Kentucky Derby on May 2. I’m planning to virtually bet on my favorite horse. I’m hoping to collect a big virtual payday when my virtual horse crosses the virtual finish line. Then I hope to attend the real thing on Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs.
But that’s a big bet in itself.
Like everyone else, I’m optimistic that the world will soon right itself in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, allowing festivals and events to take place once again. The RoundAbout’s primary mission has always been to promote local and regional events, and these wholesale cancellations have dramatically impacted our business.
But I’m a realist. I don’t really foresee this going away for quite some time. Many events have already been canceled for 2020. Many others have been postponed to August, September, October or later this year.
for Regional Events
• Aug. 15: Kentucky Derby Festival’s Thunder Over Louisville, Louisville, Ky.
• Aug. 22: Kentucky Derby Festival’s Humana MiniMarathon, Louisville, Ky.
• Aug. 23: Indianapolis 500
• Sept. 4-5: Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, Louisville, Ky.
• Oct. 8-11: Abbey Road on the River (Beatles festival), Jeffersonville, Ind.
• November (tentative): Homefront Veterans Celebration, La Grange, Ky.
These events have been canceled and NOT rescheduled:
• Spring Old Court Days, Madison (May 30-31)
• Riverfront Run Car Show, Madison (May 30-31)
• Bunbury Music Festival, Cincinnati (June 5-7)
• Madison River Jam (June 13)
• Rising Sun (Ind.) Blues & BBQ Festival (June 20)
• Madison Regatta and Roostertail Music Festival (June 27 – July 5)
• Forecastle Festival, Louisville (July 17-19)
• A Hot Summer Night, Rising Sun, Ind. (Aug. 22)
• Hometown Rising, Louisville (Sept. 12-13)
• Louder Than Life, Louisville (Sept. 17-20)
• Bourbon & Beyond, Louisville (Sept. 25-27)
But as we move forward through the weeks and months, the goal posts for re-opening the economy, opening businesses and restaurants keep being extended further down the road.
There is no cure or vaccine for this virus. And until there is, I can’t see life ever getting back to normal. At least, not back to the old normal. But I am hopeful a new normal will allow us to get back to some semblance of life without constant concern for wearing masks, gloves and sanitizer, and staying at least six feet apart from one another.
For me, this nightmare really hit home back on March 19. I was in the airport terminal in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., waiting on my return flight after having to cancel a weeklong, all-inclusive vacation to Antiqua. While sitting at the terminal, suddenly an oriental woman came walking down through the terminal to her gate, dressed head-to-toe in an anti-virus suit, her shoes, head and hands covered in the transparent protective material. The only thing visible was her eyes. She pulled out her boarding pass to show the gate attendant, then proceeded through the door of the jetway to board the plane.
Everyone in the terminal who saw this was amazed. It was a sobering moment, to be sure. Was this the future? Could it this really get this bad, we wondered?
I had just spent the previous week in Fort Lauderdale watching the coronavirus unfold every day on TV. It still seemed surreal back then. People in the United States didn’t wear masks. That was something you only saw in far away places like China and Japan and heavily populated Third World countries.
Then on Tuesday of that week, dozens of Broward County Sheriff’s officers showed up and blocked off access to the public beaches. Yellow ribbons and squad cars lined the beaches. Cruise ships were being kept offshore and prevented from docking at the port to unload passengers, many of whom had been infected. This was just days before states began wholesale lockdowns and closing stores and restaurants.
It was like living in a doomsday movie, and we were only the sacrificial extras watching it all unfold. Where was Tom Cruise to save us? Where was Harrison Ford? Anyone seen Will Smith or Kurt Russell?
Our airplane was three hours late arriving, pushing our flight time to 8 p.m. We were worried we might not get home before the airline began cancelling flights. We just needed to get home before things got worse.
Once we boarded the airplane, several passengers immediately began the frantic ritual of wiping down the seats, armrests, trays and seat buckles. People were anxious. People were quiet. The flight attendants wore latex gloves. It was one of the last weeks of air travel before the airline industry began to cancel flights by the thousands.
We did make it home to Louisville and went back to work the following Monday. That was the week everything began shutting down. “Stay at home to stop the spread,” became the mantra.
We are still following these instructions to help protect ourselves and others as we head into May. But after weeks of self-quarantine and being cooped up with our families, people are getting antsy to get back to work and back to normal. Any normal.
Photo courtesy of Sun-Sentinel
South Florida began closing down all public beaches on March 17 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Broward Sheriff’s officers enforced the closures.
Despite some states slowly opening certain businesses, polls taken in late April showed that the majority of people are still apprehensive to gather in groups or leave their house at all without more certainty that it is safe out there.
Can it ever be completely safe again?
I am thankful that I don’t work in a field that requires me to put my health and safety – and my family’s health and safety – on the line just to go to work: fields like healthcare workers, police, first responders, grocery and postal employees. But I am also grateful to those who do. If there’s one lesson we will learn from this dark period in our society is that these brave folks will never again be taken for granted.
So as we enter the month of May – traditionally one of the busiest times of the year when the summer festival and events start heating up – the need for socializing and gathering and dining out and meeting up with our friends has become less importantly when you consider what others are going through – just to save lives and themselves from harm, or even death.
Our time for fun will eventually come. There will be another Kentucky Derby – someday. For now, we must hunker down and stay the course and do our part in getting past this craziness and do it in a way that follows what our health experts are telling us.
Yes, we want to get out and meet our friends. Yes, we want to get back to work.
But we also want to live.
• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at info@RoundAbout.bz.
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