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ANNOUNCEMENT! PLEASE READ
Sunday, March 29, 2020
The 59th annual Rose Festival has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic say organizers.
Welland's signature event that drew thousands of people to the Rose City from across Niagara and beyond for the past 58 years has been postponed until further notice.
"The decision was made by conference call to board members two days ago," said Rose Festival board president Jeff Ward late Friday.
This year's festival was to run June 4 to June 21, mainly downtown.
"I am sure a lot of residents enjoy the festival as a signature event for all ages to attend in June, and it will surely be missed," he said, adding the city had been notified of the decision.
With large crowds and participants from across Ontario, Ward said the board felt it was too risky to hold the event as scheduled with the on going global COVID-19 pandemic possibly still under way during the month of June.
"If we were to hold it later, it would conflict with other festivals," said Ward, who has been president eight times and parade chair seven times.
Ward 5 Coun. Claudette Richard, the city's council representative on the board, said it's disappointing the festival had to be postponed but it was understandable.
"It was not an easy decision to make … very heartbreaking for the whole committee and volunteers," said Richard.
She said the event had a substantial economic impact on the city that will be missed this year.
Ward and Richard's mother, Yvette Ward, played a key role in establishing the event.
Ward said almost all the events were booked, including the coronation ball, with 10 applicants, a fireworks show and Days in the Park at Merritt Park.
Planning for the parade, a festival favourite of Richard, was well underway, too.
"Last year, when it started off with the enormous bagpipe bands all grouped at the start of the parade … it was phenomenal," she said.
Ward said the board is already planning next year's festival.
He said if things change before June 4, the board may try to complete some of the planned events.