JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — After months of — well almost nothing, Johns Creek residents can gear up for some special events coming to the city in the next two months.
The city’s Recreation and Parks Department is finalizing a list of COVID-adapted special events in November and December.
With the outbreak of the pandemic in March, Johns Creek Recreation and Parks cancelled all events and focused its energy and funds into creating innovative, fun events for the community while taking safety precautions.
At an Oct. 5 City Council work session, parks staff presented the council with modified and adapted versions of their planned events for the next two months.
The first event on tap is a movie in Newtown Park on Oct. 23. Attendees will be organized into viewing “pods” to promote social distancing and encouraged to wear masks. The department estimates the venue will accommodate 200-300 people.
The mayor and council also have arranged to host a town hall meeting Nov. 12 in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The meeting will accommodate those who wish to attend in person or participate online. The format will allow for more than double the usual participants of past town hall meetings.
Johns Creek will honor veterans Nov. 14 at the Wall That Heals in Newtown Park. The staff has planned a program that calls for a four-hour open house-style event allowing for more social distancing and staggered attendance. The plan also includes a screen displaying footage from the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Wall and statements from council members and the mayor.
Councilwoman Stephanie Endres objected to including elected officials in the video, saying the event should focus entirely on veterans.
“What we have all lacked in COVID-19 is the human contact with the community,” Endres said. “With it being a veterans event, I would really like to see the veterans being the cornerstone of the event.”
Other council members agreed and said they wanted to do as much as possible to include the veterans and showcase the monument.
Mayor Mike Bodker said that an event showcasing The Wall That Heals needs to be done right.
“I think we are diminishing something that a lot of people put a lot of effort in to make happen,” Bodker said. “While we would love to show it off, and we wanted to show it off months ago, I think when we finally show it off, we either do it right or not at all.”
The holiday season will look a little different this year. The Recreation and Parks Department has arranged for the traditional tree-lighting and dreidel display event to be carried online, with Santa and council members on Dec. 3.
Plans for one of the city’s biggest annual events, the Founders Day Parade, will be modified to avoid large congregations of people. The parade is being planned as a Dec. 5 driving tour through neighborhoods featuring Santa and public safety officers. Breakfast with Santa is transitioning to Zoom meetings with Santa, allowing more children to participate safely.
While the mayor and City Council approved the plans, they asked parks staff to explore ways to allow for some in-person attendance at the tree-lighting and dreidel display.
“I would rather see as much in-person as possible as long as it could be done safely, but I’ll trust staff’s judgment on that,” Bodker said. “For me, the general theme is simple, I would like to see us return to normalcy as fast and as safely as we can.”