GUSTINE - Local residents cherish the various activities and celebrations that bring people together.
They are not, however, excited about some of those offerings being presented in a virtual format, if results of a recent Gustine Recreation Department survey are any indication.
The results, City Manager Doug Dunford said recently, reaffirm the city’s belief about the wishes of its residents and underscore the importance of bringing back community events as quickly as regulations allow.
“This tells the staff that Gustine is a town that likes to mingle, to be out with family and friends and not do things virtually,” Dunford told Mattos Newspapers. “This reinforces what we believe. Even though our (residents) have been doing a good job of staying at home they are ready to move forward.”
Tiffany Vitorino, the city’s recreation manager, said the city survey received 250 responses.
Among the findings:
• Among adults, first aid/CPR courses were ranked as most important to resume when social distancing restrictions are lifted, followed by aquatic center programs and adult softball league.
• For youth activities, aquatic center programs, sports clinics and Y-LEAD were deemed most important to resume when social distancing ends.
• Fourth of July activities, Christmas in the Park, the Halloween festival and kids’ fishing day were activities respondents ranked as the most important. More than two-thirds of respondents said they would be comfortable attending those events with social distancing precautions in place.
• Sixty percent of respondents indicated they would slowly start to participate and join community activities when restrictions are lifted, while 31 percent said they would jump right in to joining activities and community events.
• For the most part, respondents indicated little interest in taking part in virtual activities.
“What was really rewarding was to see that they very much want the fireworks to move forward,” Dunford commented. “They also want the Halloween festival and Christmas in the Park, the big celebratory events that the city puts on. As soon as we can, we will make these things happen.”
The city still hopes to have fireworks on the Fourth of July - with social distancing in place - but the celebration will not include a parade or park activities.
Dunford said he is hopeful that by August the state will have reached a point that events which bring larger gatherings will be allowed.
He said the city hopes the OLM Celebration can be held in September.
“If not, we will shoot for Halloween,” Dunford stated. “I think the goal of having the Celebration in September is very realistic. How soon that happens is up to the governor.”
Dunford said he believes that all the community’s traditional activities will return - although some may look a little different, depending on restrictions.
“We are looking at ways now to try to make them work, but we’re not there yet,” he said. “We are trying to make it happen as soon as we can.”