GI Chamber cancels Harvest of Harmony

The Grand Island chamber said the coronavirus forced it to cancel the 2020 Harvest of Harmony...
The Grand Island chamber said the coronavirus forced it to cancel the 2020 Harvest of Harmony parade.(Source: CNN)
Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 1:40 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - A signature Grand Island fall event is the latest casualty of COVID-19. The Grand Island Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday that the 2020 Harvest of Harmony parade and field competition is cancelled this year.

In an announcement posted in a chamber newsletter, chamber director Cindy Johnson wrote:

“HARVEST OF HARMONY PARADE AND FIELD COMPETITION. With the announcement this week of the cancellation of the 2020 State Marching Contest/Festival, the Chamber has made the very difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Harvest of Harmony Parade and Field Competition. This was a tough call as this would have been the 79th Annual Harvest of Harmony Parade and is a favorite of bands and parents from across the State.”

After hearing the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association cancelled all 2020 contests, city officials followed suit.

“If they didn’t feel that they could pull off an event at the state level, we weren’t sure we’d be able to pull off a supporting event at our local level,” said Chamber of Commerce Director Cindy Johnson.

For Hastings High band, the Harvest of Harmony parade is tradition.

“That’s been a source of pride for our kids and our community,” said Band Director Erin Beave. “The events that they put on with both the parade and the field show is something that we like to participate in as often as we can.”

When the band heard the news, they were heartbroken.

“It is a disappointment not to do the parade, not to do the field show, not to be able to showcase on Saturday afternoon like we do often in the fall, along with a lot of other events,” said Beave.

Another deciding factor to pulling the plug was the city’s ability to keep everyone safe during the parade. In order for the city to put it on, the bands wouldn’t be able to be in formation or blow from their instruments, to prevent spit droplets from spraying the audience as bands walk by.

“Not only would we need to social distance the marchers, but we will have to find a way to manage the spit of the marchers themselves,” said Johnson. “We also have to manage the audience.”

City officials weighed several different options before cancelling. They thought about eliminating the audience and only allowing the bands to perform in front of the judges. They also considered going virtual but decided none of these options would be fair to the bands and the people of Grand Island.

“Nothing other than the Harvest of Harmony parade and field competition was going to make their expectations. We weren’t going to be satisfied with putting on something that was less than what they expected,” said Johnson.

At first, the Chamber of Commerce committee was concerned with cancelling the parade. They were worried they could possibly lose bands for future events. With conversations with judges and band instructors, losing momentum won’t be an issue for Harvest of Harmony, since events are being cancelled statewide. Officials believe Grand Island will continue to be a good option for bands to showcase their skills in 2021.

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