St. Joe's Park cancels all events for 2020
Last updated 5/7/2020 at 1:12pm
Each summer, St. Joseph's Park in Joliet hosts events almost every Sunday, where local churches or other organizations host fundraisers.
With bands, beer and bingo, the events have been a staple of the community for years and attract a large gathering each week.
St. Joseph Parish announced on its Facebook Page today that because of COVID-19, it has decided to cancel all events for the 2020 season, citing the large crowds and lack of possible social distancing.
"It is with great disappointment and much sadness that I officially announce the cancellation of all activities at St. Joseph Park for this 2020 season. This decision was not arrived at easily," Fr. Timothy P. Andres, Pastor, St. Joseph Parish, said in the release. "I have been following the news, hoping that this health crisis would have subsided by now, but that has not come to fruition. I have also spoken to city and diocesan leaders, our insurance carrier, and medical and infectious disease experts who recommend not going forward with our picnic season, especially since it would be almost impossible to enforce the requirements of social distancing and the need to wear a face covering in public."
In speaking with the Bugle, Andres said it was a difficult decision.
"That is why I waited so long, I was hoping we would be told that we could hold events, but there is no way to social distance at St. Joe's Park," he said."People love the park, and in the evenings there, people are shoulder to shoulder. People have been coming there for at least 35 years and there are people that are there every Sunday. St. Joe's Park is a great place for the community to get together socially and at the time we need it most, it is unavailable. But, we all have to do this together - we are in a time in history like we never have been. This is new to everyone."
Andres understands the impact that closing the park all summer will have on the organizations that use that fundraiser as a source of income each year.
"That was why we cancelled them all," he said. "We understand the work that goes into planning for these events. We also understand what this does to the organizations - some count on this money for their ministry. We did not want to have them waiting and planning and have to cancel at a later date."
St. Joe's Parish is the one that will take the biggest financial hit with the closing of the grounds. The parish will not only lose funds from its own homecoming fair, but will have to pay to maintain the park while not collecting the rent from those holding picnics or those renting the hall on the property."
The focus now is to get the parishioners back into St. Joseph Church on Joliet's east side.
"We are now waiting for word on when the church can open so we can gather and worship and pray together," Andres said.