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Some N.L. communities postponing Come Home Year celebrations

The Best on West car show that took place during Corner Brook Come Home Year on July 27 is one of the events that many would like to see continue. - Kathleen Andrews Photo
Come Home Year 2019 was a big event for Corner Brook, but many communities in the province are opting to postpone events planned for this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Saltwire File Photo
CORNER BROOK, N.L. —

Coming home is something Newfoundlanders and Labradorians look forward to more than anything in the world.

And many communities in the province were getting set to celebrate doing just that with Come Home Year events this summer. However, the situation with COVID-19 is shaping up to turn 2020 into the year not to come home.

Susan Reid and her committee have been working since this time in 2018 to plan Norris Point’s 2020 Come Home Year. The event had been set for July 24-Aug. 1, but the committee decided last week during a Zoom meeting to postpone it and is now working towards a July 9-18 celebration in 2021.

“We had a conversation actually around what would this look like even if we were going back the end of May or even June,” said Reid, the committee chairwoman. “There were a lot of factors there.”

Among them if people would be back to work and able to afford to come, would they be able to travel and would they even want to travel? Rather than putting it on the participants to have to make the decisions the committee decided to postpone. It was a very sad, sad decision, a sad group, but I really think we made the right decision.”

If they went ahead this year Reid said people probably aren’t going to be ready.

“And it’s not fair to do that, to say we’ll go ahead with half of you or less than that.”

She added the thought of gathering in a large group might be awkward for many. Reid said they had close to 500 people already registered for the celebration with about 75 per cent of those coming from out of province.

The committee is offering refunds on registration fees that have already been paid or people can opt to have the fees kept there for next year.

“So far, it’s only been a week, but I think we’ve only had five or six refunds. It’s looking good,” she said.

The extra year will now give the committee another year to plan.

“We’re going to have a bigger and better time next year. By that time everybody will be ready. More than ready.”

In Botwood, it’s not only the Come Home Year that’s on hold but also the Flying Boat Festival.

Come Home Year was supposed to be July 24-Aug. 3 with the Flying Boat Festival taking place during the event.

Mayor Scott Sceviour, who also chairs the Come Home Year Committee, said they had been getting emails from residents away wondering what was happening.

“With the uncertainly of where COVID-19 is going to be, whether it ends in June or July, it’s taking a financial toll on everybody involved,” he said.

Like Norris Point, Botwood considered people being out of work and the uncertainty of travel as there could be less flights coming to the province this summer.

“The social distancing is still going to come into play. People aren’t going to want to socialize like they would have. The Come Home Year celebrations are all about social activity. So, it kind of bites at exactly what we’re trying to achieve,” he said.

Between discussions with his council and his committee of about 25 members, the decision was made to postpone the event to July 23-Aug. 2, 2021.

And next year, Sceviour said, they’ll still celebrate Come Home Year 2020 even though it will be 2021.

The challenge for the committee, he said with a laugh, is that people may expect more.

One community on the Northern Peninsula that is holding out on cancelling its Come Home Year is Port aux Choix. Committee chairwoman Kim Cornick said the committee is in the process of talking about what to do and should have a decision by the end of this month or the first part of May.

They’ve been planning for the Aug. 3-9 event for two years now and that’s a lot to give up.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen, so we’re trying to prolong and prolong. Just playing a waiting game.”

Twitter: WS_DianeCrocker

@western_star

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What’s happening with other some other 2020 Come Home Year events:

Main Brook — Postponed until Aug. 4-8, 2021

Cook’s Harbour-Wild Bight — Postponed until July 28-Aug. 1, 2021

Harbour Grace — Committee will be making a decision next week

Port aux Basques — Waiting until May to make a decision

Burnt Islands — Committee has yet to make a decision

La Scie — Postponed until Aug. 13-21, 2021

Forresters Point-Black Duck Cove-Pigeon Cove-St. Barbe — Postponed until Aug. 16-22, 2021

Grand Bank — Cancelled, any money paid in advance by participants and businesses will be refunded

King’s Point-Rattling Brook — A decision will be announced on April 30

Mings Bight — Postponed until 2021

Hawkes Bay — Committee has yet to make a decision

Pilley’s Island — Planning on hold

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