Choosing ‘people over pagentry’

| June 25, 2020 12:38 PM

By now, many of you have heard that we have made the difficult decision to cancel the annual Polson Chamber 4th of July Parade. Additionally, despite the best efforts of our fireworks partner and unexpected financial support of Polson businesses, there is simply not enough time to assemble and present a quality Chamber Fireworks Show this year. The Chamber Board of Directors has ultimately decided to postpone all 4th of July Chamber events in the hopes of hosting a Parade and Fireworks Show on Labor Day weekend to celebrate Polson’s incredible workers and labor force.

We understand this is not an ideal situation. We have received considerable feedback regarding our decision, and while much has been supportive, an ample proportion has not. We want you to know that we appreciate your concerns and feel your disappointment.

The Chamber Board of Directors is a committee comprised entirely of volunteers whose businesses and organizations are directly tied to rise and fall of our local economy. We are also Polson citizens who care deeply for the people of our community. In serving as your Chamber of Commerce, we are charged with strengthening our business climate, promoting our area, and fostering a sense of community. It’s a responsibility that we do not take lightly, which made the decision to cancel our 4th of July Parade and Fireworks, a day that has become one of Polson’s premiere economic drivers and most celebrated community events, all the more agonizing.

There are some who are angry with our decision. There are those who believe cancelling the Parade and Fireworks is a mistake. Your frustrations are understandable. Our community has sacrificed a lot to get to this point—lives upended, friends and family separated, livelihoods put on hold. For a while our County was free of COVID-19 and the arrival of warmer weather seemed to indicate that the whole ordeal was over. The Parade and Fireworks would’ve marked a more official return to normalcy, providing much needed distraction and celebration as we all came together to honor our country and cheer on our town.

It was only after weeks of deliberation, with input and recommendations from Lake County and Tribal Health officials and local healthcare professionals, that the Chamber Board determined too great a risk remained. By cancelling the Parade and Fireworks, we chose people over pageantry. We did so not to be villainous, but because we are committed to securing the short and long-term health of our community and economy.

As of today, Polson is safe, healthy and open for business. Our restaurants and bars are serving up delicious food and tasty beverages. Our library and museums are reengaging with our community and boats are once more cruising out on the lake. People are visiting our storefronts, entertainment is returning to our theaters, and our hospitals and clinics are providing excellent care. We are headed in the right direction, thanks in large part to the outstanding hard work and vigilance you have maintained in getting us this far. As a Chamber, we aim to keep that momentum moving forward. If cancelling 4th of July Chamber events helps protect the health of our citizens while ensuring our reopening trends can continue, then it’s the unfortunate sacrifice we have to make.

As we’ve said before, these are unprecedented times. We thank you, Polson, for your perseverance and understanding as we continue to consider the health and safety of all Polson citizens. We also thank you for all that you do to make our town such a special place to live. Know that we will continue to explore new and innovative ways to bring our community together and help our business community thrive.

Should anyone feel the need to voice additional questions or concerns on this matter, please do so by email at chamber@polsonchamber.com. We welcome your feedback so long as it is constructive and civil. Any further hateful or malicious phone calls, emails or social media messages to our Directors, Office Manager or Chamber Volunteers will not be tolerated or addressed.

— Polson Chamber of Commerce Board