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Celebrate! West Hartford Canceled for 2020

32nd Annual Celebrate West Hartford. June 9-10, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

Town Manager Matt Hart announced Thursday that Celebrate! West Hartford will not take place this year.

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford residents will likely want to celebrate once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides enough to allow large gatherings, but the town’s signature event, Celebrate! West Hartford, will not be held this year.

Town Manager Matt Hart announced Thursday the decision to cancel the 34th annual event. The event, which attracts tens of thousands of people annually with music, arts and crafts, games, rides, and other activities, and unofficially signifies the start of summer, was scheduled for June 6 and 7, 2020.

“As a town-sponsored event, Celebrate! West Hartford requires time and attention from many town departments and employees in the months and weeks leading up to it,” Hart said in a statement. “During this unprecedented time responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, our first priority must be the health and well-being of our residents.”

“The extreme measures and sacrifices that we are making now are an effort to get back to our normal way of life as quickly as possible,” Mayor Shari Cantor said.

In addition to Hart and Cantor, the Celebrate! West Hartford Committee, and town leaders including the directors of Public Works and Social & Leisure Services, fire and police chiefs, and the acting director of the Bloomfield-West Hartford Health District provided input before the decision was made.

“While this is certainly disappointing, in the scheme of things, it is minor,” Celebrate! West Hartford event organizer Linda Geisler said. “The important thing for now is that we follow the recommendations of our leaders to keep ourselves, loved-ones and neighbors healthy.”

Geisler and others involved in planning the event also felt it was important to announce the cancellation as soon as possible, to be able to inform the artists, sponsors, non-profits, food vendors, road race registrants, and suppliers as soon as possible, rather than waiting until closer to the time of the event.

“We know many families look forward to the festival every year. For now, we must be responsible to each other and unfortunately canceling this event is the right decision,” said Committee Chair Mary Alexander. “We will all be back better than ever next year.”

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