Southbury Celebration canceled with officials fearing increased COVID-19 exposure to youth

Southbury First Selectman Jeffrey Manville

Southbury First Selectman Jeffrey Manville

HearstCT File Photo

Southbury First Selectman Jeffrey Manville has had to make some tough calls when it comes to the impact of COVID-19 the past 15 months.

Canceling the 22nd annual Southbury Celebration community event scheduled for Oct. 9 was among the toughest on several levels. The event is co-sponsored by the town of Southbury and Southbury Training School.

“The decision to cancel was made by everyone involved with the planning,” said Manville, a member of the Southbury Celebration Planning Committee. “The decision to cancel was made in regards to the safety of our children. The family event usually attracks thousands of people. There are kids who aren’t vaccinated and exposing them to a large crowd increases their chances of getting COVID-19 and then spreading it in our schools.

“Our COVID-19 numbers in town are good and leveling off. Region 15 and Superintendent Joshua Smith have done a good job of keeping COVID-19 in check in our schools. We didn’t want to impact that by having an event where our kids could be exposed to the virus.The children’s education and their safety is the most important thing to all of us and we thought it was best to cancel the event, espcially with the Delta variant out there.”

Manville said the decision wasn’t easy and it was a personal disappointment.

“After being shut in the past year with COVID-19, I know how much people have looked forward to getting outside and going to a family event like the Southbury Celebration,” Manville said. “We were looking forward to seeing people come out for this community event. I also feel bad because we have local bands provide music for us, including high school students who have bands and perform music. For the scond straight year they won’t have that opportunity.

“It’s also very disappointing to cancel because this event has a close, personal meaning for me. My mom (the late Dorothy Manville) was one of the two original founders and organizers of the Southbury Celebration along with Brian Jones. I wish my mom could see how this event has grown into one of the largest attended events in town. And one of the nice things about it is there an understanding among candidates that there is no campaigning at the event, even during a local election year like this year.”

The Southbury Celebration is typically a four-hour night event with a food court, stage for local entertainment and culminates with a large fireworks display. The event overlooks Lake Stibbs at the Southbury Training School on Route 172. According to the Southbury town website, the event draws about 5,000 people each year.