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Sterling cancels more events due to coronavirus

Sterling Heights Sentry | Published April 20, 2020

 The fate of the city's annual Sterlingfest is up in the air due to the coronavirus.

The fate of the city's annual Sterlingfest is up in the air due to the coronavirus.

File photo by Donna Agusti.

The coronavirus behind the COVID-19 disease is continuing to empty event calendars in Sterling Heights.
On April 15, the city announced that many more events and programs will be closed through the end of June. 

For instance, meetings of the Ordinance Board of Appeals, the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Beautification Commission have been stricken from the schedule through June. An April 28 City Council budget workshop meeting was also eliminated.

The opening of the Dodge Park splash pad has been delayed until July 1, and the grand opening for the upcoming dog park at Delia Park has been delayed until July 7. 

Other major city events that won’t happen in May include the spring Pride & SHINE Day to beautify properties, the Sterling Edge Business Awards, the Beautification Commission’s Plant Exchange, and the Sterling Heights Area Community Foundation’s scholarship presentation.

The biggest city event that will not take place is the Memorial Day parade. To compensate, officials say the city will hold a week of pro-veteran virtual events with a “drive-by” event honoring veterans on Memorial Day. 

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor said the cancelation decisions were jointly made among city staff, administrators and the City Council. He said he is also heeding advice from health professionals and from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Taylor said city officials are still looking at when they can have large gatherings of people, but they are concluding that the time is nowhere near right yet.

“We’re up to over 600 positive cases in Sterling Heights. I heard today from Macomb County’s public health director that we have 50 confirmed deaths in Sterling Heights,” Taylor said April 16, adding that the death number was from April 14.

“While the number may start going down, there’s going to be a long period of time where we’re going to be proactively working to make sure we don’t have a resurgence. ... We hate to do it (cancel events), but we think it’s in the best interest of the community.”

Taylor said he didn’t have a precise deadline for when the city would need to decide the fate of its biggest annual event, the Sterlingfest Art and Music Fair in July. He said the city will see whether professional sports or other mass gatherings come back over the summer, but that won’t be the ultimate deciding factor.

“We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect the public’s health,” Taylor said. “Again, the decision will be based on CDC guidelines and recommendations.” 

Sterling Heights Parks and Recreation Department programs will also be affected by the city’s  recent cancelation announcements. 

Weekly Music in the Park concerts and Dodge Park Farmers Market openings will be nixed through June. The recreation department’s adult sand volleyball and adult softball programs have been postponed into July. A six-week Summer Playground and Adaptive Day Camp parks program has been scrapped. 

A couple of May events — namely, the Treasure Hunters Market and a mother/son event — will be moved to September. The Battle of the Bands, originally scheduled for June, has been canceled. 

Several Sterling Heights Public Library events will also face cancelations, but library staff hopes to hold some virtual events in their place. 

Jason Groth, the library’s public relations and programs coordinator, said children, teens and adults will have online programming tailored to them.  For instance, a virtual online Pizza & Pages teens program will become BYO — “bring your own,” he said.

“When it became apparent that the closing would be longer than a few weeks, we put our heads together,” Groth said. “I’ve been working with our librarians, and they’ve all been creating content for their respective areas. … We are still doing more storytimes, more crafts, demonstrations and reading.”

Groth said library staff is also anticipating a big push for a virtual summer reading program, based on a fantasy theme of “Imagine Your Story.” But he hopes that the library can eventually accept reading goal sheets in a drop-off box for people who don’t have an electronic means of transmitting them.

“I do want the virtual program to mirror the physical program, so there isn’t going to be a discrepancy between the two,” he added. 

For a full list of canceled city events and programs, visit www.sterling-heights.net. Further questions about city plans and cancelations may be sent via email to cityhall@sterling-heights.net. Learn more about the Sterling Heights Public Library’s event calendar by visiting www.shpl.net/610.

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