WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KION) The City of Watsonville has decided to cancel most of its events scheduled for 2021, according to Mayor Jimmy Dutra.
Dutra said the cancellations include the Fourth of July Parade, Fire in the Sky firework show, Wheels at Watsonville and the Strawberry Festival.
"I am extremely upset the city wouldn't take a wait and see approach with these events that so many of us attend... Mental health is affecting so many of our community members. We as a City should be making sure we put the community on our shoulders. That's our job!" Dutra wrote in a social media post.
Watsonville resident Ramon Rodriguez, who says he experienced many of the local events for decades, tells KION the news of the cancellations was hard to hear.
“You get a sense of security and tranquility gathering in good times with other people, but I understand what leaders are doing and I think it’s good to take some security measures," says Rodriguez.
Watsonville City Council members say cancelling for a second year in a row was a tough decision.
Council Member Eduardo Montesino explains many of the yearly events are big fundraisers for charities and non-profits, but adds there are other options on the table.
“We’re cancelling some events but not all of them, we’re still going to do some virtual events. It’s still a conversation about it and hopefully if we go down to the tiers, then hopefully we can bring these events back," says Montesino.
Reopenings and event cancellations will depend largely on case and vaccination numbers for the area.
“Things are actually looking pretty good in Santa Cruz County, we are seventh in the state for per capita vaccinations right now," says County Spokesperson, Jason Hoppin.
Hoppin explains, out of 58 health jurisdictions throughout the state, Santa Cruz County ranked number 7 in the percentage of residents who have at least an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Hoppin says if the spread continues to reduce, there could be some changes to outdoor events as soon as this summer.
Mayor Dutra says he recommends the city hosts a drive-in firework show to allow for social distancing while continuing with the event and that he will continue to push for it.