No parade this year
Downtown events are largely off again in 2021 due to the spread of coronavirus. Review file photo

There is bad news for fans of signature Coastside events that draw untold visitors and serve as vital fundraisers for area nonprofits and opportunities for local business. Organizers confirmed on Thursday that there will be no Pacific Coast Dream Machines this spring and no Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival in the fall. The news is no better in Pacifica, where the Fog Fest is off as well.

The reason is the ongoing pandemic that has eased in recent weeks but appears far from over. Late last month, the state eased restrictions on San Mateo County based on case rates and other metrics of the virus spread. As a result, the state allowed more retail activity, but the current “red” tier of restrictions here continues to limit capacity for indoor activities and ban gatherings like fairs and festivals.

Those restrictions are likely to endure for the time being. Even the “yellow” tier, which is the least restrictive, caps the capacity for outdoor amusements.

Pumpkin Festival Chairman Cameron Palmer confirmed the massive Half Moon Bay street fest, normally held over an October weekend, was off for the second year in a row.

“I don’t hold out much hope for a festival this year,” he said in an email on Thursday. “If a miracle occurs and the governor grants permission for outdoor festivals we certainly will revisit this matter.”

Palmer said the Half Moon Bay Beautification Committee, which runs the festival, will likely try to hold a pumpkin weigh-off this year. Last year, months into the pandemic, the group held a remote weigh-off limited to participants and very few spectators.

Tim Beeman, CEO of Miramar Events, said all of the events he has traditionally managed across the peninsula are on hold through at least the end of July. That includes Dream Machines, which traditionally is held at the Half Moon Bay Airport and benefits the Coastside Adult Day Health Center.

Beeman said, “I do not hold out much hope” for large-scale outdoor events in the Bay Area in 2021. He says he expects limitations on the events will likely make them untenable.

And on Wednesday night, organizers of Pacifica’s biggest party of the year, Fog Fest, decided it would be irresponsible to hold the 35th annual event in Pacifica this year because doing so could imperil the future of Fog Fest. That’s because the Fog Fest Organizing Group predicted expensive restrictions and fewer visitors, a recipe for financial disaster.

Smaller events have also been postponed indefinitely. The regular Mel Mello Farm Day Luncheon, usually held in March and sponsored by the Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Center, is also off for now, according to Chamber President and CEO Krystlyn Giedt.

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