Vernon Hills calls off Summer Celebration over coronavirus concerns
Vernon Hills' Summer Celebration, one of the best-attended events of the Lake County festival season, has been canceled due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
The village's popular Fourth of July parade and fireworks show also have been cut.
Forgoing those three activities will save the village roughly $200,000, said Village Manager Mark Fleischhauer. They are among $2.5 million in overall expenses to be deferred or reduced by the village to offset the financial impacts of the pandemic. That total includes 61 separate items.
Fuel costs will be reduced by $40,000, delaying an aeration system at Lake Charles will save $70,000, and deferring updates to the village hall will save $92,000, for example.
Deferring the purchase of police and public works vehicles is expected to take about $697,000 off the books, and not filling a vacant position or hiring two police officers will save about $227,000.
Trustees had been given a prioritized list of potential deferred or reduced expenses. All in the "A" category were accepted.
Trustees opted not to defer repaving Westmoreland Drive, a gateway street on the south side of town, or expenses involving the pending Lakeview Parkway/Fairway Drive/Route 60 reconfiguration.
The actions authorized by the village board Tuesday are part of a rapid domino effect among municipalities, park and forest preserve districts and others to cancel events, festivals and any activities that attract crowds.
"We started it back in the '80s. We never had to cancel it," longtime Mayor Roger Byrne said of the Summer Celebration. "I remember one year canceling the fireworks because of drought, but that was years ago."
Summer Celebration, known for its musical acts, had been scheduled to run July 16-20. Planning began last August and many details already had been addressed. There also had been added anticipation this year with a band lineup that included Jefferson Starship and Fuel.
"This is the first time ever we had a concert promoter," Fleischhauer said. "We signed the bands in September." Deposits on the acts should be able to be applied to next year pending availability, he said.
The Fourth of July parade has become a large event that routinely includes 100 floats and entries. Fireworks are shot at dusk from an island at Century Park and there is not a way to control the crowd, Fleischhauer said.
"I'm really disappointed with the direction all these events have taken," he said.
Not holding the events will save money, but the decision was basically out of the village's hands. State guidelines to allow gatherings of more than 50 people are likely a ways off.
"Let's assume large gatherings like Summer Cel and Fourth of July will not happen," Trustee Craig Takaoka, said Tuesday before the decision.
Fleischhauer said the village hasn't canceled its Oktoberfest and, depending what happens with the Vernon Hills Park District's annual Little Bear Ribfest scheduled for mid-August, a hybrid two-day event may result.
"If the situation arises when we can have a gathering like that, they'll partner with us," he said.