State overstepping with its mandates for local activities

We are going to miss a whole lot this fall, to be sure, as events continue to be canceled because of state mandates amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

This week we’ve digested the news that there will be no 9-11 Memorial Ride in September and no Mummers Parade in October.

Both events have come to be important in the hearts of local people.

This would have been the 75th anniversary of the South Williamsport Mummers Parade, which annually attracts throngs of people to line the streets of the borough to witness a dozen or so divisions of marching units and assorted motor vehicles, parade floats and our local form of “mummers” — people dressed in costume.

It is, after all, right before Halloween, and who knows how that will go this year? Only time will tell.

We cannot help but be disappointed with state officials who continue to usurp the power of local people to make decisions on behalf of their own communities. With regard to the Mummers Parade, organizers had frequent conversations with health care professionals and the Lycoming County coroner about how to minimize risk of spreading COVID-19.

“We weren’t just willy-nilly going ahead with this plan,” said Dori Rankinen, one of the organizers. “We had made plans to do social distancing.”

Enter state government and Gov. Wolf’s executive order limiting the number of people gathering and the challenge of securing a permit from the state Department of Transportation to close a portion of Route 654 for the parade.

“Unfortunately, Gov. Wolf and his task force, in cooperation with PennDOT, have created an environment of hysteria and COVID-19 regulatory hoops to jump through that make it impossible to enjoy our historic community event,” the organizers said.

The 9/11 Memorial Ride, on the other hand, is intended to honor the memory of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on our nation. This would have been the 20th ride, given that the first ride occurred days after the attacks in 2001.

Work to host the ride is extensive. This year, an extra level of work was mandated by the state Department of Transportation, with the 9/11 Memorial Ride Coalition given less than 60 days to meet new state requirements. To proceed with the event, the coalition was told it would need each of the 19 communities through which the ride passes to indemnify state government against any lawsuits stemming from COVID-19 infections.

Huh? It’s hard to imagine folks on motorcycles spreading the coronavirus around as they travel the route mapped out by organizers. Rather, it seems that the state, again, is overstepping its authority.

It’s as if Papa Wolf wants to send us all to bed without supper.


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