Provincetown calls halt to major events this year

By Ethan Genter

Posted May 12, 2020 at 4:41 PM Updated at 6:20 AM

Select Board decision affects Carnival parade, July Fourth fireworks.

PROVINCETOWN — Following the lead of Wellfleet, Provincetown has halted all parades, town-sponsored events and applications for the use of town property for the rest of the year.

The unanimous decision by the Select Board on Monday night means no Carnival parade and Fourth of July fireworks, two of the largest events still left on the Cape’s waning event schedule.

“I don’t think at this point it’s realistic for us to think that we are going to magically be able to have large gatherings, even in the fall,” Select Board member Lise King said.

Town staff originally had recommended revoking all applications for events through Aug. 31, but the board considered extending that through the end of September to encompass Labor Day. After a short discussion the board decided to take that even further, through the rest of the year, matching the regulation that Wellfleet put in place last month.

The measure was taken to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus through massive gatherings. Organizers of Carnival, a weeklong event capped by a themed parade that draws thousands of people to Commercial Street every summer, had been running through alternates but had not canceled before the board made its decision.

“I understand the decision they made and why they did it,” said Robert Sanborn, executive director of the Provincetown Business Guild, which organizes the parade.

The guild could not see any scenario where it could put on the 42nd edition of the parade this summer, but it hopes to offer an alternative that is scaled back and deemed safe by health experts.

What that alternative could be, Sanborn did not yet know.

Most other large events had scrapped plans or postponed them before Monday night.

The Provincetown International Film Festival has been rescheduled, and Provincetown Pride events, Bear Week and Single Women’s Weekend have been canceled. Pan-Mass Challenge and Family Week have become virtual events.

The Provincetown Portuguese Festival will be downsized, eliminating any events associated with large gatherings. It will still conduct the Blessing of the Fleet, although it will probably be more like the original blessing in 1948 than the more recent versions.

The Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, which has plans for several events throughout the year for the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing on Cape Cod, is absorbing the news and planned to talk Tuesday about new strategies.

The nonprofit organization does plan to hold a commemoration of the landing, the signing of the Mayflower Compact and the Pilgrims’ first meeting with the Wampanoag, but how that will be done is not clear, executive director K. David Weidner said.

The Select Board’s decision Monday affects events on town property, and although the museum had plans for a parade and events at the harbor, other events would be on its property. The museum will still have to follow whatever regulations are in place by the state.

Canceling for the full year will give event organizers an opportunity to negotiate with their vendors, Town Manager Robin Craver said.

Follow Ethan Genter on Twitter: @EthanGenterCCT.

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