By Dermot Connolly
Orland Park trustees agreed Monday night to move full speed ahead with special events this summer including two concerts, the Taste of Orland, Brewfest and the Great Pumpkin Party.
They did agree to observe social distancing and to take other pandemic precautions.
The Orland Park Village Board approved a resolution Monday affirming its commitment to go ahead with the Centennial Park West Concert Series, as well as several other summer events, with social distancing and other precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Centennial Park West Concert Series originally called for three concerts this summer. But that was reduced to two, with the third postponed until next year.
So, Tommy James & the Shondells along with Ides of March featuring Jim Peterik, The Buckinghams, Cryan’ Shames, New Colony Six and Shadows of Knight are scheduled to play Saturday, Aug. 22.
Then, on Saturday, Sept. 12, classic rock bands Blue Oyster Cult, along with Mark Farner’s American Band and The Fabulous Thunderbirds will take the stage.
The third concert featuring Scott Stapp, Filter and Dishwalla will be held next summer, on a date to be determined. This will be ticketed as a single concert, separately from the two being held this year.
Residents had been offered a discounted ticket price until June 30. The general public may now purchase $60 tickets online that includes both concerts at universe.com.
On Monday, the board also decided to offer free concert tickets to firefighters, law enforcement officers and other first responders such as paramedics and 911 dispatchers, as well as medical professionals and members of the U.S. military. Additional tickets for family members may be purchased at the discounted resident rate of $50 for the concert series.
Concerts in the Park is scheduled for July 12 and Sept. 6. Taste of Orland Park is scheduled for July 31, and Aug. 1-2. Brewfest will happen on Sept. 19. The Great Pumpkin Party is set for Sept. 26.
Trustees Dan Calandriello and Kathy Fenton voted against the resolution, saying they would have voted for the smaller, more lightly attended events included in it, but not major gatherings such as Taste of Orland.
“We are acting recklessly, having these large events is not in the best interest of our community,” said Calandriello, after reading out a list of similar large, community events that have been canceled throughout the Chicago area. He pointed out that three Orland Park residents, including two village employees, have recently tested positive for COVID-19.
He pointed out that some of the smaller events will likely draw 1,500 people, which he said would be more manageable, while as many as 15,000 could be at Taste of Orland, which includes live music on the grounds of the Village Hall.
“People are on top of each other. It will be impossible to socially distance,” he said.
“In my personal opinion, holding these big events is not a good idea,” said Fenton.
Trustee Michael Milani asserted that the Fourth of July event, which included fireworks and a live concert in Centennial Park, worked out well, and the upcoming events can, too.
“We were able to witness that the guidelines we put together for the Fourth of July event worked, we limited capacity. We should be able to duplicate it. We have proven that people can go out and enjoy these events if they want to,” he said.
On a vote of 4-3, the board added an amendment at the request of Trustee Jim Dodge that will require village staff to come up with the latest date that these events can be canceled if there is a local spike in COVID-19.
“We need to continue to take steps back to normality, because we are living in abnormal times. If things start trending in the wrong direction, I want to make sure we have a thoughtful way to respond,” said Dodge. Mayor Keith Pekau joined him, Fenton and Calandriello in voting for the amendment.
“There is no reason to cancel prematurely when there is a plan in place to deal with any situation. Things are moving in the right direction and many of these events are a long way off,” said Pekau.
“As a community, we have been through many changes since March, and each has come with adjustments,” said Pekau. “As we said from the get-go, we intend to be flexible and adjust as needed when it comes to our summer events and activities.”