By LISA WHALEY
Jonesborough’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Monday to cancel 2020’s Jonesborough Days celebration due to current COVID-19 concerns, opting instead to adopt a new July 4th Block party targeted at promoting downtown businesses.
“Let our downtown merchants have a day,” said Alderwoman Virginia Causey during the June 8 meeting held at town hall and available by streaming via YouTube. “We can advertise and show what they’ve got.”
Referred to by Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest as a “more measured event,” the block party would give area residents the chance to celebrate Independence Day with a downtown shopping day. Shops would also have the opportunity to move merchandise out onto the sidewalks to better market their wares.
But it wouldn’t have the larger crowds that have previously characterized Jonesborough Days.
“Jonesborough days is risky,” Alderman Terry Countermine stated. “I just don’t feel comfortable about it.”
“More measured” became the theme for the night as board members grappled with a long list of summer events and recommendations for their opening amid a COVID pandemic that is constantly changing.
At the heart, according to Countermine, was the safety of the town, its residents and especially its crew.
“I’m concerned first that we here and the board are saying ‘Our staff can do it.’ ‘Our public safety can do it.’ ” Countermine said as the board discussed options for Music on the Square, Jonesborough Days, Movies on Main, Brews & Tunes and more.
When the town holds an event, Countermine pointed out, residents can decide whether they feel safe enough to attend.
“But we aren’t giving staff or public safety that same courtesy. I don’t think it’s fair for us to ask our employees (to take that risk.)”
Still, board members agreed that they needed to move forward to support local businesses.