Ridgefield Holiday Village is canceled due to COVID-19 spike
The Ridgefield Holiday Village planned for downtown is being called off, and youth sports are being suspended until mid-January, as COVID-19 numbers in town rise relentlessly.
Ridgefield High School will also remain on “remote learning” until at least after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend due to COVID-related “staffing challenges,” according to Superintendent of Schools Susie Da Silva.
As a town, Ridgefield has exceeded a rate of 29 new cases per day per 100,000 population.
“Tonight it’s 29.1 cases per 100,000,” Marconi told Wednesday night’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting.
“The ‘red line’ is 15 per 100,000,” Marconi said.
The 29.1 was up from the 28 per 100,000 residents that Marconi had announced at Tuesday night’s triboard meeting of the selectmen, finance and school boards.
Those figures represent a “rolling average” for the last week.
In a town of 25,000, Marconi’s 29.1 and 28 per 100,000 figures both translate to about 7 new cases a day, averaged over a week. (The cases per 100,000 population is a metric the state uses, to enable comparisons between towns, cities and geographic areas.)
“Every community in Fairfield County is in the red,” Marconi said, referring to the 15-per-100,000 threshold.
Ridgefield was the last town in Fairfield County to go red, Maconi said, and might still show as “orange” on the state’s COVID-19 tracker map, which runs on data that is a week behind the town’s information.
The Holiday Village was planned as a four-weekend series of attractions designed to get people shopping in Ridgefield center without bringing a huge crowd all at once as has been traditional with the one-weekend “Holiday Stroll” — which it was created to replace this year, due to COVID-19.
But the COVID-19 situation has worsened and with the town now in the “red” according to the state guidelines, even the most of the activities planned for the more spread out “Holiday Village” have been deemed unsafe, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said Wednesday night.
“We need to — unfortunately — cancel the Holiday Village,” Marconi told selectmen.
The decision will be “formally announced” on Friday, he said, but emails had already been sent to parties involved in organizing the event, such as Downtown Ridgefield, the Chamber of Commerce and the town Economic and Community Development Commission (ECDC).
Geoffrey Morris, chairman of the ECDC, lamented the cancelation of the Holiday Village, but said that more details on what is still planned to encourage Ridgefielders to do their shopping at town businesses in a safe manner will be announced on Friday.
“So many people put so much into this and there was collaboration all around — from the Board of Selectmen, ECDC, the Chamber, merchants, sponsors, volunteers, and donors — that it’s unfortunate to scale it back,” Morris said.
“But the positive COVID numbers are up and people gathering in uncontrollable numbers is not good. Limiting people gathering is wise,” he said.
“So while most of the activities — carriage rides, carousel, skating rink, live music, circus shoes—are canceled, the primary effort of the event — to encourage people to shop Ridgefield — is still of paramount importance. Details about ECDC’s plans to that end will be revealed Friday.”