FESTIVAL QUIETED — Children’s thrilling screams on the carnival rides during Sunnyside’s Cinco de Mayo festival won’t be heard this year. Monday, the event organizers and city leaders announced the 30-plus year-old event will be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

SUNNYSIDE — It was with a heavy heart that the organizers and city leaders were compelled to announce the cancelation of the city’s largest and the state’s oldest Cinco de Mayo festival.

The three-day May event, which reportedly attracts more than 25,000 people to Sunnyside streets, is the next victim of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers and city officials announced Monday, March 30, that the colorful street fair, complete with dancing horses and Tex-Mex music, has been canceled in reaction to the state and federal Stay Home, Stay Healthy orders.

Recognizing the event for both its cultural and economic impact on the community, City Manager Martin Casey, who enjoyed his first city Cinco de Mayo last year, was reluctant to call for the festival closure even as other communities began canceling major events in early March.

“So many of our community and the surrounding region depend on Cinco de Mayo for their livelihood. It is a very meaningful celebration,” he added.

“We didn’t make this move lightly,” Casey acknowledged, adding the organizers had been discussing the possibility of a cancellation for weeks, “….but we had hoped things would be clearing up.”

Event coordinator A&A Promotions, LLC and the city leaders are working to wrap up event preparations and to alert all affected vendors, artists and performers of the cancellation, Casey announced on the city’s website.

The move was made based on public health officials’ predictions that Washington will not reach its peak of COVID-19 cases until mid-April, and there may be active cases in May and June, Casey explained.

While the President has extended the national social distancing directive through April 30, the Governor has issued a statewide order currently in affect through April 8, but it may also be extended, Casey noted.

“We know this action has an immediate economic and emotional impact on residents, vendors and performers,” he added.

“However, we also understand the need to protect the long-term health and well-being of our community,” he stressed.

Casey acknowledged that city leaders are exploring other ways to bring the community together, possibly through live streamed events, activities or “…by holding a commemoration event once we come through the pandemic.”

The city will also monitor information regarding the new economic assistance programs and services that will be coming through recently enacted federal and state COVID-19 business aid packages.

All coronavirus-related updates are listed on the city’s website.

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email PShelby@SunnysideSun.com

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