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Drive-in movie night to replace Baldwin Day

Grand Baldwin Festival postponed to next year; events take a hit from the pandemic

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Baldwin Day will not be the same this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. To replace the traditional picnic and fireworks show in Baldwin Harbor Town Park, Chamber of Commerce members are planning a drive-in movie night.

On Baldwin Day in previous years, the park was filled with thousands of residents of Baldwin and neighboring communities, who set up their lawn chairs and socialized, shopped at vendors, ate hot dogs and hamburgers, and took in to a musical performance before the grand finale fireworks show.

Baldwin Chamber President Erik Mahler said at a virtual meeting June 3 that it is too “up in the air” to plan for a mass gathering of people in the park where it would most likely be difficult to practice social distancing. The event, which would have been the 25th anniversary of Baldwin Day and the 12th anniversary of the locally sponsored fireworks show, will be Aug. 1 this year.

Mahler said he and other organizers are seeking various bids from contractors for the drive-in movie theater, adding that the location is not yet known, although they hope it will be Baldwin Park or “a location suitable to the Baldwin community.”

Baldwin resident Linda Degen suggested selling tickets for the event, breaking it up into a couple of nights and seating people apart from one another on a first-come, first-served basis, but Mahler said that wouldn’t be necessary because people would be in their cars to ensure social-distancing guidelines are followed.

“This is going to be a drive-in so people will already be social distancing in their cars and not be able to leave their cars unless they’re sitting on their cars themselves,” Mahler explained.

Organizers also said there would be an approximate cost of $4,000 to host the drive-in movie night. 

“As a chamber board, we have to see if that’s fiscally responsible, to see if we’re getting our biggest bang for the buck for our chamber members,” Mahler said, “as well as the Baldwin community as a whole.”

Hareesha Boyagodage, a Baldwin business owner, initially offered to sponsor the fireworks show, but after Mahler explained that it would not happen, said he would still like to be involved in the new program.

Organizers added that the financial donations to support the fireworks show, which fall short every year, would fall “way short” this year because of the pandemic.

And Baldwin Day isn’t the only large-scale event to be postponed. Claudia Rotondo, a Baldwin resident and member of the Community Coalition of Baldwin, announced that the Grand Baldwin Festival that was originally scheduled for the fall has been postponed to either next spring or October 2021. The inaugural Grand Baldwin Festival took place in October last year.

Rotondo said she and other organizers planned to host a drive-in movie night in lieu of the festival. “This is just like a seedling thought in my head,” she said, adding that she planned to do more research on it.