CADILLAC — At the end of the day, the most important thing for the committee that organizes the annual Cadillac Freedom Festival is keeping the community safe.
Organizer Derek Anderson said they held onto hope for months that by this time, the coronavirus would be a distant memory.
That hasn't happened, and with rumors circulating that the festival's fireworks could draw people from all over the state, Anderson said the committee finally made the decision Monday to pull the plug.
"There was a feeling we weren't moving away from COVID cases," Anderson said. "Our concern for the community outweighs everything else right now."
Anderson said they've heard reports from a number of city agencies about people traveling long distances to see the fireworks on Sunday.
He said District Health Department No. 10 expressed concern about the possibility of hundreds or thousands of people packing into the city to see the fireworks and asked organizers to come up with a plan outlining their safety precautions.
These precautions included fencing off certain areas, keeping a headcount, maintaining sanitation stations throughout the event, and limiting those who come to see the fireworks to 250.
Anderson said there is no way they could have limited fireworks attendance to 250, considering that people line the shoreline of Lake Cadillac to see them but he understands why the health department had concerns about the event, which factored into their decision to shut it down this year.
"It's something we just don't want to live with," Anderson said. "We don't want to be responsible for bringing a bunch of people into Cadillac that could infect our community."
Being one of the last festivals in the area to shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Anderson said they remained steadfast and hopeful for as long as they could because of what the event means to them and the community.
With the festival now cancelled, Anderson said they'll be refunding any money they've received from vendors and sponsors. Other money collected toward putting on the fireworks will be used to fund next year's celebration.
"We'll put our efforts into next year and see what happened," Anderson said.