Changing health orders open door for full Summer Sunset Blast, looser restrictions in Stow

Krista S. Kano
Akron Beacon Journal
Despite changing health orders, Stow will still hold a smaller version of its Fourth of July Parade. The city is however planning to loosen other aspects of the Stow Strong festival, as well as other summer activities.

With Ohio health orders being lifted June 2, the city of Stow is easing its way back to normalcy, loosening protocols for the Stow Strong festival, reopening the senior center and planning a full-fledged Summer Sunset Blast. 

"We've been under this mask mandate for almost a year and a half," Mayor John Pribonic said. "Some people are totally fine, and some are still leery and rightfully so. We ripped off the Band-Aid, but we still need to respect each other. So whether it's June 2, or the Fourth of July, we want everyone to enjoy their experience, so we're going to make this a slow process."

Here's what lies ahead for the Stow:

Public meetings: Stow City Council and all committee and commission meetings will continue to be held remotely until July while the city upgrades the technology in council chambers. Public Service Director Nick Wren said that much of the required equipment and services are on back order due to the pandemic. The eventual in-person meetings will continue to be live-streamed to the city's YouTube channel. Those attending in-person will not be required to wear masks. 

More:Stow council waiting for tech upgrades before meeting in-person

City Hall: City Hall has been opened to the general public since April 5, and as of May 17, those who are vaccinated, whether employees or visitors, are not required to wear masks. 

Indoor Rental Facilities: Facilities have been available for rent since March 1, but only at half capacity. Starting June 2, the facilities will be available at full capacity. The city will continue its more intensive sanitizing process between rentals. 

Fox Den: The clubhouse will follow the same protocols as city hall, with no mask requirement for those who are vaccinated. 

Memorial Day: The city had planned a registration-only Memorial Day ceremony on May 31, and Parks and Recreation Director Linda Nahrstedt said that will be kept as is. However, she said, they will not prohibit unregistered people from attending, so long as the crowd does not become overwhelming. It will be up to individuals whether they wear a mask. 

Stow Pride: Stow Pride's main event, The Fourth of July Parade, to be held on July 5 this year, will continue to be a "hybrid experience" with a smaller version of the parade traveling through local neighborhoods. The city is, however, loosening other aspects of the weeklong festival. The new Fun in Stow Play Day and Community Picnic on June 26 will no longer require masks and certain aspects, such as the Drum Fit demonstration and Jungle Terry will no longer require registration. Nahrstedt added that they are considering holding at awards ceremony at the end of the July 5 Firecracker Run.

More:It's back! Stow PRIDE returns with new name, new activities and adapted favorites

Leona Farris Lodge: Silver Springs Lodge was set to be rededicated as the Leona Farris Lodge with a July 2 ceremony during Stow Pride, but has since been moved to Sept. 16. More details will be released in the future. 

Summer Sunset Blast: Nahrstedt said the city is planning a "full event" for Summer Sunset Blast, though there may be changes based on availability of fireworks and how comfortable residents are with inflatables. She added that they are considering adjusting the site plan to create more of a spaced-out midway-type area rather than a tightly contained area. 

Day camps: The parks and recreation department wants parents to be comfortable sending their young children to camp this summer, and are still developing safety protocols. Nahrstedt said they are considering only requiring masks for campers and counselors when indoors and on buses.

Senior Center: Parks and Recreation hopes to have a "slow roll of an opening" in the second week of July with smaller senior programs held at the senior center. There will still be social distancing, and masks may be required indoors. Virtual and outdoor programming, such as concerts and drive-in bingo will continue. Protocols may change based on CDC guidance specific to senior centers. 

More:Stow Senior Center undergoes minor renovation during continued closure

Monday Meals: Monday Meals, the restaurant delivery program that was born out of the pandemic, came to an end on May 24. The concept will return to the city for the Stow Pride community picnic, and may come back again in the fall. 

John Lewis Bridge: On July 17, the city will dedicate the Steels Corners Bridge over Route 8 as the John Lewis Bridge. Pribonic previously stated that he hoped the dedication would happen in May, but, "We want to make sure this is handled respectfully and correctly. This is more than just hanging a sign." The dedication will include a march over the bridge and speakers at the Stow Municipal Courthouse parking lot. 

More:Stow to rename Route 8 bridge for John Lewis

Stow-Munroe Falls Schools: School board meetings will continue to be live-streamed based on requests from the current members. The district will continue to follow changing state orders regarding social distancing and mask requirements as they roll out. Staff will continue to use the sanitizing equipment and supplies with current protocols in place. 

Munroe Falls Farmers Market: In order to maintain social distancing last summer and provide a drive-thru option, the Munroe Falls Farmers Market moved temporarily to City Hall, but will return to its primary Brust Park location starting June 15. Held every Tuesday through Oct. 19, the market will no longer have a drive-thru option and will not require masks. Last year masks were mandatory for vendors and visitors. 

Stow Farmers Market: Stow Farmers Market, located at Community Church of Stow,  will not require masks this year, but will encourage healthy practices with hand sanitizer at each booth. Live music will be returning each week, and leashed dogs are once again welcome to come to the market. Manager Gary Aleman said that the market is hoping to return to normal. The market opens on Saturdays June 5 to Oct. 9 from 9 a.n. to 12:30 p.m. 

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.