Six months ago, it was looking like a fun year.
The calendar showed that July 4 and Halloween are on Saturdays, while Valentine’s Day, Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Fridays. That’s a lot of extended weekends, but by now the concept of a weekend loses some of its luster after months of working from home and sheltering in place. Is today Monday or Tuesday?
In short time, 2020 became the year of not-much-fun, of making do with backyard adventures instead of community gatherings. The realty hits home with every vacant sports stadium, public pool or school building. Until recently, it seemed another casualty of the pandemic would be Fourth of July fireworks shows that light up the summer sky this time of year.
The St. Joseph Mustangs put on an impressive show every year at Phil Welch Stadium, but the team’s entire season has been canceled. Meanwhile, the city of St. Joseph’s public display was in jeopardy due to concerns about social distancing and loss of gaming funds that normally pay for this kind of one-time expense.
Those concerns were justified. On the financial front, the impact of business closings and reduced consumer spending continues to be felt. The St. Jo Frontier Casino’s revenue is down 14% for the year following two full months of closure.
That’s compared to 2019, when the casino was closed for a couple of months because of flooding. The casino, which only recently reopened, brought in a total of $6.9 million in January and February and nothing in April and May.
The financial and health considerations, however, were weighed against the desire to provide some sort of spark, if you will, to a population that might feel a little stir crazy after months of sheltering in place and few options for entertainment.
Councilman Kent O’Dell summed it up at a recent meeting.
“We need to have something to look forward to,” he said, “some kind of celebration, because this town’s been cooped up for a long time. If they ever deserved a fireworks show, this is the year they do.”
That doesn’t mean to throw caution to the wind, especially with coronavirus cases on the rise in the South, the West and parts of Missouri. It will be necessary to use common sense while viewing fireworks from the Remington Nature Center parking lot, or to watch this display from a vantage point that allows for easier social distancing. Nothing is foolproof, so don’t be foolish.
At the same time, a fireworks show in our view is a reasonable step toward normalcy for a city that needs it.
We’re glad city officials and council members agreed. St. Joseph needs more than an extended weekend. It needs a celebration.