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Breaking: Geneva Chamber backtracks Swedish Days Parade cancellation: Parade not canceled

GENEVA – Six days after announcing in an email that the Swedish Days Parade was canceled for this year – followed by confirmation that it was canceled – the Geneva Chamber of Commerce announced today in a news release that it was an error: The parade for this year has not been canceled, after all.

“We apologize that information was sent out by Geneva Chamber of Commerce in error,” according to the press release. “The Geneva Chamber is considering options for Swedish Days. The parade is just one facet of a very complex festival that requires advanced planning.”

The press release cited regulations regarding the coronavirus pandemic that in order for full festivals and events with unlimited attendance to run, the state needs to be in Phase 5. Currently, Illinois is not at that point and Kane County, which is Region 8, is in Tier 2 of Phase 4.

“Decisions will be made in accordance with state and city regulations in a timely, yet practical manner,” the release stated.

Speaking at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, 1st Ward Alderman Tara Burghart lamented how the coronavirus pandemic had impacted everyone’s lives – and that she received an email stating the 2021 Swedish Days Parade had been canceled.

Chamber spokeswoman Laura Rush, who confirmed that night via text that the parade was canceled due to not knowing where the state will be “with events and attendance numbers regulations.”

The email canceling the event, which was sent Jan. 15, stated that it was being sent to people who were either in the parade or had shown interest in the parade.

The parade typically has more than 200 units, including Shriners, marching bands, local community groups and businesses represented.

The email stated that the chamber board had voted against having the 2021 parade “due to the recent pandemic and the uncertainty around the remainder of the year ahead.”

The email was also sent to Geneva spokesman Kevin Stahr, who forwarded it to Jeanne Fornari, the city’s executive assistant and deputy city clerk – who then forwarded it to Mayor Kevin Burns and City Administrator Stephanie Dawkins.

“We received this disappointing news on Friday and I shared it with the council so they were aware as well,” Burns said.

“I respect the Chamber’s difficult decision, as it reflects the uncertain environment come June.”

Burns said he didn’t say anything about the parade cancellation because he expected that the Chamber would send out a press release.

But Wednesday morning, after sending out a news release stating that the email was sent in error, Rush said, “It was a miscommunication in our office.”

She said a follow up email was sent to the past parade participants clarifying that the parade was not canceled, but said the Chamber would not forward a copy of that email to the Kane County Chronicle.

Rush said the follow-up email was essentially the same message as in the press release.

Chamber board chairman Scott Lebin said it takes eight months to a year to plan for an event and the coronavirus puts the Chamber in a spot where they have to wait to plan.

“We are sort of … a continual moving target and in trying to plan for long-term events, we have had to take a much different approach,” Lebin said. “What is going to happen right now with the parade and with how we are going to handle Swedish Days – we can’t totally make that decision right at the moment.”

As to the email announcing the parade’s cancellation, Lebin said it was sent in error because it was not approved to be sent out.

“It was never supposed to go out. It was a major snafu,” Lebin said of the email. “Paula didn’t know. She was shocked by it, that it went out.”

One explanation could be that someone took the parade possibly being canceled off a list of items the Chamber board’s executive committee considered last week, Lebin said.

The Chamber board meets Thursday morning, and all the details will discussed, Lebin said.

“I’m doing reviews of everybody there in the office to make sure we have good information,” Lebin said. “And to make sure that once we send something out, to go through and make sure it’s correct before it goes out like that.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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