Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
November 18, 2020

Commissioner Mike Lednovich’s chart depicting rise in local covid cases over the past month..

In light of rising numbers of covid cases both locally and nationwide, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) voted 4-1 at their November 17, 202 Regular Meeting to cancel all City special events through the end of 2020, including the Christmas parade and the New Year’s Eve fireworks.  At their previous meeting they had voted to cancel the Christmas Tree Lighting event.  

Commissioner Chip Ross dissented, believing that sponsors of the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Run had provided sufficient safeguards to allow their event to continue.  He also believed that scaling down of the traditional City New Year’s Eve celebration to the bare bones of fireworks lasting 10-20 minutes was acceptable.  Other Commissioners disagreed.

After some discussion, it was decided that limiting the traditional “Dickens on Center” festival to the lighting of downtown buildings and trees with no ceremony would be allowed.

Former Mayor Sarah Pelican and former Vice Mayor Charlie Corbett addressed the FBCC on behalf of Light Up Amelia, the non-profit organization that works to raise funds for the annual New Year’s Eve and July 4 community celebrations.  They explained that providing fireworks in place of the annual Shrimp Drop on New Year’s Eve would allow their organization to offer citizens an opportunity for an abbreviated celebration.  Earlier covid concerns had led to the cancellation of the traditional July 4 fireworks, leaving a payment to the fireworks firm that would be forfeited if no replacement fireworks were to be scheduled by the end of the year.

Colleen Hodge, representing the Amelia Island Runners, also addressed the FBCC, asking that the organization be allowed to conduct its annual Thanksgiving Day 5K run with alterations and restrictions to minimize potential covid impacts.  This event, the Amelia Island Runners Stuff the Turkey 5K Charity Race to benefit Gracie’s Soup Kitchen, had been previously approved by the City in July.  Hodge explained that about 75 runners would be participating in groups of 20 or less in order to maintain distance and that there would be no social gathering before or after the race.

Commissioners discussed the problems inherent with events likely to serve as “super spreaders” in the community.  Despite any suggested or imposed restrictions, commissioners feared that individuals would not uniformly adhere to them.  An example offered was the conditions imposed upon youth sporting events prior to approving their resumption.  The restrictions that organizers initially agreed appear to have been routinely ignored as activities resumed.

At the end of the meeting Commissioner Mike Lednovich said, “This has been a tough meeting, and none of us wanted to cancel anything.  This has been a devastating time of year,  My wife and I will celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas alone because of the pandemic.  We have a City employee who is now battling covid, and I want to wish him well.  It just magnifies how devastating this virus can be, and we all need to be on our guard.  So please have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, and as Dr. Fauci says, there is light at the end of this tunnel.”

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Bruce Smyk
Bruce Smyk (@guest_59586)
2 years ago

How about limited fireworks on 12/31 for a “Bon Voyage to 2020 Celebration”?

Lori Flemming
Lori Flemming (@guest_59592)
2 years ago

Shame on you. Keep your heads buried.

Ben Martin
Ben Martin (@guest_59605)
2 years ago
Reply to  Lori Flemming

Unfortunately it seems that the City Commissioners are unable to discern between “Science” and “Sponsored Science.”

Janet L. Lynch
Janet L. Lynch(@janet-lynch)
2 years ago
Reply to  Ben Martin

By all means, enlighten us. What is your definition of “Sponsored” science? Where did you you get your degree from?

Ben Martin
Ben Martin (@guest_59625)
2 years ago
Reply to  Janet L. Lynch

Hello Janet. Hope you are well and not living in fear. As H.L Mencken said …….”The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

An example of sponsored science would be where a corporation, government, or a charitable foundation (like the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation) funds research in the area of natural science. Research “Funding of Science” on Wikipedia and you can read about how it works.

Reportedly The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gives grants to to vaccine makers (e.g. Pfizer). According to an article in the WSJ that same foundation purchases stock in pharmaceutical companies.

The thing that should concern all of us is that the same folks that are funding the science are the same people who are funding our politicians – Democrat and Republican.

If you can tell me where Bill Gates got his degree I will tell you where I got mine.

Thomas Morris
Thomas Morris (@guest_59595)
2 years ago

A big thank you to all of the Commissioners that thought of the citizens of fernandina beach safety, in making such hard decisions to cancel these events, hats off to you all.

Perry Anthony
Perry Anthony (@guest_59601)
2 years ago

Wow, it absolutely blows me away, that the only medical professional on the board (who is an emergency room physician on the front-lines at Baptist Medical Center, who is personally dealing with Covid-19 patients on a DAILY basis), was the ONLY dissenting vote on canceling these holiday events to try to PREVENT them from being SUPER-SPREADERS.

Kelley McCrimmon
Kelley McCrimmon (@guest_59618)
2 years ago

Please help me understand why we can allow school sports to continue, indoor and outdoor arts and crafts programs & fairs, other programs but the city commissions voted AGAINST an outdoor parade and fireworks? We could have been smart like the City of Jacksonville and drawn 6ft circles for groups to sit inside of or asked folks to watch from their cars (most do on center st. anyway) or come up with other options. The mental health issues of isolation during the last 8 months are as much a mounting concern as the potential of catching the physical illness. I do believe that as a whole if our community is treated with respect they will act the same and be grateful for an opportunity for a little stress relief and holiday cheer in a responsible fashion. I do not have all the answers and I certainly am not privy to all the information that I would hope all the commissioners had, but if Chip Ross who works at the hospital felt that it was better for the community and supported the outdoor activities, I truly think the others made a poor choice this time. Fear cannot consume us. This is a season of hope and faith, light and love. We need to be reaching out and supporting our community and especially since we are allowing the other INDOOR activities and children’s activities to continue. Thank you for your time in reading this. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza and whatever festive holiday you elect to celebrate. May 2021 be brighter for us all.

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