STOW – The summer of 2020 in Stow will have a decidedly different look than summers of decades past.

The biggest changes are the cancellations of the annual Fourth of July Parade, Pride Festival and Summer Sunset Blast, all a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s annual Memorial Day Ceremony also will not take place this year.

"Our signature events and programming are imperative to what makes the city of Stow such a great place to live," Stow Mayor John Pribonic said. "While we are disappointed that we will have to cancel these events due to the ongoing pandemic, the safety and well-being of our residents always takes top priority."

The Fourth of July Parade, co-sponsored by the city of Stow and the Kiwanis Club of Stow-Munroe Falls and a staple in Summit County summer events, would have marked its 62nd marching this year. Every year, thousands line Route 59 to see the more than 120 floats, marching band, community and student groups and politicians.

Taking place each year from around the last week of June through July 4, Stow Pride Festival offers something for all ages, from ice cream socials and pancake breakfasts to library activities and culminating with the parade. The Firecracker Run took place in the morning prior to the parade and would have been in its 42nd running.

Although the Fourth of July Parade and Pride Festival are canceled, fireworks may still be a possibility, Pribonic said. City officials welcome creative ideas for a celebration that meets the criteria set by the governor and health department.

The end of the summer season was observed with the annual Summer Sunset Blast, featuring fireworks, musical entertainment, inflatables and community groups.

"That one hurts to the bone," Pribonic said. "It’s sad we’re not going to have the Summer Sunset Blast. We’re out to Sept. 7 for cancellations unless something happens."

Especially impacting the youngsters with their summer plans is the cancellation of Silver Springs Day Camp, Youth Sports and Safety Town.

For adults, there won’t be Community Bus Trips, Senior Programs and events and Adult Exercise and Dance.

Amenities continue to be closed, including Bow Wow Beach, Silver Springs Campground, playgrounds, tennis courts, and Stow Senior Center through Labor Day. 

The city’s rental facilities will remain closed at this time. While the city is taking reservations for future use of the rental facilities, refunds will be provided if social distancing protocols are still in place at the time of the reservation. These facilities include: Silver Springs Lodge, Heritage Barn, Lakeview Shelter, and Oaktree Shelter.

"Our mission at this time is to provide avenues for our community to still enjoy recreational activities while adhering to social distancing protocols," said Director of Parks & Recreation Linda Nahrstedt. "We are planning online, remote, livestream and other types of programs to keep the community engaged. All our parks and trails are open."

Although programs are canceled for the Stow Senior Center, puzzles are available and staff call weekly to see if seniors need anything, Pribonic said.

"This listing of closures and cancellations is fluid; with the potential future easing up of social distancing protocols, all programs, events and facilities will be re-evaluated," Nahrstedt said. "We will look at what other options we have, or in what modified or scaled down way are we able to hold an event or program."

Pribonic said his staff is working on new activities to make up for the loss. New events and programs to be introduced include a community-wide Stow Strong Celebration, Community Scavenger Hunts, Drive-In Movie Theatre, Fourth of July Parade Tribute, Silver Sneakers live online, and Senior Lending Cart. The city will also offer Summer Camp kits for youth and for seniors. 

Residents working on yards will be able to load mulch themselves and the city will provide someone to load mulch May 16 and June 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Silver Springs site on Stow Road. The Community Gardens program with modifications will be available for residents with details available in the future.

The state of emergency in the city has been extended through May 31 and was necessary to align with state and federal government guidelines for social distancing, Pribonic said. Per the order, all government buildings will remain closed to the public through May 31. City officials are asking that residents conduct business, such as filing taxes, paying water bills and requesting permits, through the city’s website or over the phone. All city departments can be reached at 330-689-2700.

"As a community, we have come together in so many ways," said Pribonic. "One of the most important things we have done for our neighbors has been staying home and helping to flatten the coronavirus curve. By extending the current state of emergency, we will continue to ensure that the safety and well-being of our residents remains our top priority."

For more updates on all city of Stow updates regarding Covid-19, as well as other city information, go to stowohio.org.