The 77th installment of the city’s popular Homecoming Festival will remain on hold for another year.
On April 21, the North Olmsted Community Council, which hosts the four-day fun fest every August at North Olmsted Park, announced via social media that it would be canceled for the second year in a row due to continued COVID-19 concerns.
“With all of the restrictions put in place for large outdoor gatherings, we just felt that we couldn’t really comply with all of those,” said community council President David Zurin. “The park is just an open, unfenced area. There’s no gate or a way to control traffic patterns, things like that.”
Though it’s unknown what the pandemic climate will look like come August, the council couldn’t afford to wait and see. Carnival attractions like rides and games, as well as live entertainment, need to be booked months in advance, and Zurin said he didn’t want to string anyone along without the guarantee of a festival taking place.
There are two positive developments, however, a year after the event was canceled in full. In the afternoon hours of Aug. 29, the annual Homecoming parade will still take place, following its usual route from the North Olmsted Middle School-High School complex to North Olmsted Park. The NOCC will also continue its tradition of awarding two $1,000 scholarships to graduating North Olmsted High School seniors.
“We feel it’s important (to continue with some traditions),” Zurin said.
In a normal year, Homecoming lasts for four days, Thursday to Sunday, and includes a midway full of carnival games, rides and food, along with booths rented by a host of city and school organizations. In the past there was a VFW-sponsored beer garden, as well as live music emanating from the park’s bandstand.
The community cabin and a large tent erected at the park are typically used by different local groups to host events during the festival weekend.
When the weather is favorable, thousands of people of all ages descend on the park to enjoy the entertainment.
“We felt that we can still hold the parade, and that way people are spread out along the whole parade route, so there’s not one giant concentration of people,” Zurin said. “It can still give people that hometown feel. We’ve been doing this for 76 years, so it’s something we don’t want to see go away, and because of COVID last year we had to cancel everything.”
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