GRAMPIAN — After much consideration, Bilger’s Rocks Association has decided to cancel its upcoming Haunted Hayride.
Association President Barbara McCracken said it was a decision that members did not make easily after having to call off the event in 2020 because of coronavirus infection numbers.
“Members start planning the hayride in July. With events being canceled for 2020 due to coronavirus, the association had high hopes and built the park’s 2021 schedule which included the Haunted Hay ride, Oct. 22-23. As we have been making plans, we have also watched as the number of cases of COVID-19 have increased in Clearfield County.”
McCracken said the association did not want to cancel the event, which is one of the park’s largest fundraisers, because it depends on funds from activities to pay for maintenance and upkeep.
“The hay ride is one of the association’s biggest money makers. The proceeds from it help us with operating expenses during the winter months when we are unable to host events. Being privately owned by the association members and relying solely on donations and public support to remain viable the park depends on events like the Haunted Hayride to help meet budget needs,” she explained.
She said in September, the association began to earnestly monitor the virus caseload in Clearfield County. The level spread and decided it just couldn’t take the chance of visitors getting ill.
“In previous years, we have put 30 to 35 people, elbow-to-elbow, in a wagon. By following Centers for Disease Control recommendations we just couldn’t do that. We could put maybe 10 people on a wagon to allow them to be socially distant. We normally get more than 600 people over the two evenings and following social distancing recommendations, it would just take forever to get people through the ride,” McCracken said.
She said the association chose Oct. 1 as the cutoff date to make a decision.
“As of Oct. 1, media reported 5,352 new cases locally with 513 of them being children ages 5 -18. Kids love to come to the haunted hay ride. After reviewing the increase in numbers, the decision was made to cancel the haunted hayride for 2021. We as an association didn’t make this decision lightly,” McCracken said.
She said “Setting the date of Oct. 1 was still a tight schedule for members to prepare for the event if we had received a green light to proceed with the event. Preparing for the event takes planning. We need actors, actresses, tractors and wagons, fire police for traffic control and volunteers. The most strenuous and time-consuming job is preparing the wagon route with all the props and decorations. While reviewing the reports of added new cases for the county as of Oct. 1, the association believed it had no other choice but to cancel again this year.”
She said the association hopes numbers of new infections will come down and the association will be able to host the event in 2022.
“We are disappointed by this outcome but for the safety of our guests, the volunteers who generously and graciously donate their time and talents to help and the membership, the association made a final decision to cancel again for a second year with the hopes that the 2022 event schedule can go ahead as planned,” she said.