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Fourth of July Celebration, fireworks show and Big Night Out among latest in string of cancellations

We assumed it was coming, but now it is official. The city of Canby announced on Wednesday, May 13, that it has canceled its Canby Independence Day Celebration in July and Canby's Big Night Out Street Dance in August.

"These two events, in addition to the countless others that occur every year, help to make Canby a very special destination place for so many people," said Mayor Brian Hodson. "I am saddened the events are canceled, and I look forward to when we can gather again."

The community's popular fireworks show is off, too, according to a news release from Fire Chief Jim Davis on May 7.

"Please know this was not an easy decision to make, and we know it will be an unfavorable one," Davis said in the release. "Be assured that our No. 1 priority is, and always will be, keeping our community safe."

PMG FILE PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - From left, Alayna and Shylah Pittman pause for a photo at the 2019 Canby Independence Day Celebration at Wait Park. This year's event is canceled due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions.

The cancellations come in the wake of Gov. Kate Brown's May 7 announcement that large events such as festivals would not be allowed through at least September.

The Independence Day Celebration brought about 12,000 people to Wait Park and the Street Dance attracted about 3,000 to the downtown, according to a news release from the city.

"We need to focus on the overall health and well-being of our community," said Interim City Administrator Amanda Zeiber, "and canceling our two main events is an unfortunate side effect of that order."

PMG FILE PHOTO: DEBORAH GUINTHER - Lydia Hesse hula hoops at Canby's Big Night Out Street Dance in 2019. This year's event is canceled, along with many more of Canby's large events.One of the goals of the city's events, per the release, is to encourage people to spend time and money in Canby. Even though these events will not happen this year, the city remains dedicated to that goal and will work with the chamber and Canby businesses to find other creative ways to support local companies throughout the summer, Zeiber said.

One way the city already has begun to do so is through the Economic Development department's creation of the #LoveLocalCanby campaign to encourage people to patronize their favorite businesses. The campaign highlights options to support businesses including ordering takeout food, shopping online, leaving reviews, purchasing gift cards and sharing business social media posts using the hashtag #LoveLocalCanby.

The city's cancellations are two in a long string since Brown's announcement. Other casualties include the Clackamas County Fair and Canby Rodeo, the Molalla Buckeroo, Harefest, Cutsforth's Cruise In and even the Swan Island Dahlia Festival that was set for the end of August and beginning of September.

PMG FILE PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Crowds gather at the Swan Island Dahlia Festival in 2019. This year's event is canceled.

The announcements from event organizers have come tinged with sadness, but also a sense of positivity.

"Since we aren't able to have our dahlia family together to celebrate our annual festival, we ask that you continue to share your beautiful dahlia memories and photos all summer long, to keep the joy alive," Swan Island said in its announcement on social media. "Don't forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook and tag us on social media and use #SIDahlialove #swanislanddahlias and #2020dahliafestival."

The post also noted that come August, it is uncertain what visiting the dahlia farm will look like. Staff asks that people check in on social media for the latest.

"I understand these events are near and dear to people's hearts; they are certainly near and dear to mine," said Jamie Stickel, the city's economic development director. "I know Canby event organizers will come back even stronger for next year, and the Canby community will rally behind those efforts."

Kristen Wohlers
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