Glass art by Merrilee Moore is seen during the 2017 Sorticulture festival in Everett. Last year’s Sorticulture was among several local events canceled during the covid-19 pandemic. (Ian Terry / Herald file photo)

Glass art by Merrilee Moore is seen during the 2017 Sorticulture festival in Everett. Last year’s Sorticulture was among several local events canceled during the covid-19 pandemic. (Ian Terry / Herald file photo)

Editorial: A return to live events if covid’s spell is broken

Everett’s Sorticulture, July 4th and other events are on the calendar, but infections need better control.

By The Herald Editorial Board

Many of us will remember the final scenes of Disney’s 1959 animated classic, “Sleeping Beauty,” where Princess Aurora is awakened by a kiss from Prince Phillip and a spell is broken that brought a deep slumber upon the entire kingdom.

While prince and princess gaze adoringly at each other, villagers stretch and yawn and get back to their lives. Not to get too deep into the weeds (or Maleficent’s thorny brambles) of a metaphor, but a good number of villagers around the Kingdom of Everett are more than ready to break covid-19’s more-than-year-long spell and get back to their lives.

It’ll take more than a kiss, or course, but Everett officials — with the hope that vaccinations and other precautions will continue to do their job — are making plans to resume a schedule of events that were curtailed or outright canceled over the past year.

More than just offering an alternative entertainment option to our past year of Netflix and Disney+, a resumption of live events and attractions will provide a vital boost to our moods and to the local economy, said Queen — sorry, we really do need a break from the screens — Mayor Cassie Franklin.

Tourism,” Franklin said, “is key to the city’s economic recovery.”

In past years marketing efforts were mostly concentrated on bringing out-of-state visitors to Everett, but this year the pitch will be focused locally and regionally, looking to promote a schedule of covid-safe events and attractions, the mayor said during a recent conversation with The Herald Editorial Board.

Among the most-welcomed returns in coming months will be Sorticulture and the city’s Fourth of July celebrations.

Sorticulture, a three-day festival of gardening, arts and outdoor living, returns June 11-13, but will move from its Legion Park grounds to downtown Everett, adjacent to the Farmers Market. Everett successfully and safely ran the Farmers Market last year during the pandemic, welcoming produce and arts and crafts shoppers while keeping folks masked and at a safe distance, precautions that will continue for Sorticulture and its more than 100 vendors.

The Farmers Market, as well, will return downtown this year, with a pop-up market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Sunday, and resuming Sundays on May 9 for Mother’s Day and running through the end of October.

The garden arts festival’s move downtown, Franklin said, allows for a safe event and should also mean increased business for downtown restaurants and shops.

While a parade is still out, the Fourth of July celebration and its evening fireworks will return and the city is scouting viewing locations at Legion Park and other spots with ample space for families to safely gather.

Another returning event — canceled last year by covid and by city budget cuts — is the Thursday Music at the Marina concert series. The concerts now are being planned by a partnership of the Everett Fourth of July organizers, Everett Music Initiative and Lombardi’s Italian Restaurant.

The city also will continue its work with local restaurants through its Everett Streatery program, arranging for restaurants to move tables outside to sidewalks and parking spots, a dining option that supports local business by seating diners at greater ease outside. And it’s one that should be even more popular as the weather warms. More than just in the downtown, the Streatery program also is being used by restaurants throughout the city.

“It’s a nice trade-off,” said Dan Eernissee, the city’s economic development director, who expects the program to continue through this year. “You lose a parking stall but gain activity. We’re working to allow more flexibility to create outdoor spaces.”

While not city-run programs, Everett also is counting on other attractions this year as the city shakes its covid sleep, notably a longer season for the Everett AquaSox baseball team at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium. Now a High-A affiliate for the Seattle Mariners after last season’s covid hiatus, the team’s season has expanded to 120 scheduled games, 60 at home, with the home opener set for May 11.

Behind the scenes, the city also is working to set up more grants and other programs for businesses and organizations, with support courtesy of the federal American Recovery Act passed earlier this year by Congress.

These plans, however — as eager as we are to stretch our legs, shop and eat and be entertained —will depend on continued efforts to suppress covid-19 infections. In recent weeks, the county-wide trend for infections has ticked up, after a long and encouraging slide. That reversal is a sobering reminder that covid’s spell isn’t yet fully broken.

With so much to look forward to — a return to the activities we have gone without and a boost to small businesses and the local economy — it’s all the more paramount that residents throughout Snohomish County be fully immunized for covid-19. By April 15, all Washington state residents 16 years of age and older will be eligible for the vaccine. To find vaccination sites and help scheduling an appointment, check The Herald’s list at tinyurl.com/VaxSnoCo.

With vaccinations and continued care with masks, hygiene and keeping a safe distance, we can get closer to living more normally ever after.

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