PORT ORCHARD — Just as South Kitsap began to emerge from the pandemic with enough certainty to allow for a resumption of the annual Fathoms O’ Fun Festival summer events the past few weeks, the curtains have once again been brought down on the festivities.
On Aug. 12, the City of Port Orchard announced it will not issue special event permits through Labor Day — a move that has forced the Fathoms O’ Fun Festivals to cancel the organization’s annual grand parade scheduled for Sept. 4, the Seagull Splat 5K Run/Walk and the three-day Fall Follies Craft & Vendor Show in Port Orchard.
Police Chief Matt Brown issued a recommendation to Mayor Rob Putaansuu that the events not be staged because Kitsap County has exceeded the CDC’s defined threshold for “high transmission” of the COVID-19 virus and its Delta variant.
In his written statement, Brown said: “As a public safety official, it is my responsibility to make recommendations that include all aspects of public safety with information known to me at the time. I cannot recommend the City support gatherings of this size for two reasons.
“The Police Department is currently operating at a 20% staffing deficit event without considering those on leave or out with a health issue. Permitting a large event that requires an appropriate response from the police department risks a catastrophic loss of staffing that would place the safety of the public at risk.
“… A large crowd, with persons in close proximity to each other, is an invitation to continue the spread. It would be irresponsible of me to recommend approving an event knowing it could place the health and safety of the public at risk.”
In the Fathoms O’ Fun Festival’s cancellation notice, Sharron King, the organization’s chair, simply said, “We will look forward to next year!”
Other community events canceled
Other community events in the South Kitsap area also have been canceled. The 24th Annual Cruisin’ Sunday Car, Truck and Bike Show scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 29, at Christian Life Center in Port Orchard, failed to receive event permits from the city due to COVID-19 concerns and understaffing by the Port Orchard Police Department.
“This is a sad day for everyone involved in this event,” said event organizer Larry Rubio. “We are so sorry, and we hope you understand that things are just not in our control again.
“The thought now for next year is to skip the ‘24th Annual,’ since it’s been canceled twice, and go right into our 25th silver anniversary celebration!”
In an email announcement, Rubio said Christian Life Center will be conducting its three Sunday morning services on Aug. 29 and will be collecting food donations from your vehicle for its Cruise-For-Food-Drive event.