CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said there were “painstaking conversations” but in the end Charleston officials had to cancel its very popular Live on the Levee season because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Goodwin told MetroNews she was holding out until the last possible moment to make the call on the concert series, which runs annually from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend at Haddad Riverfront Park on the banks of the Kanawha River.
“Yes, I want the lights back on in all of our businesses, yes I want the doors flung open, yes I want that stage filled with great local, regional and national talent but not at the expense of getting someone sick,” Goodwin told MetroNews.
The decision on Wednesday will also be another blow to restaurants and businesses in downtown Charleston that benefit from the traffic flow the Live on the Levee concerts create. The virus has postponed or canceled many events downtown starting in March with the boys and girls high school basketball tournaments.
“COVID-19 and the shutdown of our businesses all across the city of Charleston has had a monumental impact. We are talking about millions and millions of deficit,” Goodwin said.
“There is no mayor across the country that wants to shut down or keep shutdown businesses or venues or entertainment.”
Events in the city still on as scheduled include FestivALL that takes place around the city and nationally televised The Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
Goodwin said her team met on Tuesday to discuss the options for all events this summer.
“We need to look at each event independently. There’s no playbook for this. Because there is no playbook we have to take every opportunity and assess and evaluate it,” she said.
“I can’t say everything will be canceled but for right now we are taking caution, taking our time and being thoughtful.”
Wednesday’s announcement said the capital city is working on a plan to host a socially distant Fourth of July celebration and possibly other entertainment events. The city said it’s working with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, the governor’s office and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Goodwin said those plans will be announced in a couple of weeks.
“I don’t have a crystal ball to know exactly what is going to happen but if we just take a snapshot from what we are listening and learning from, the experts in the field across the country, we are going to have to change what we do and how we do it for quite some time,” Goodwin said.
“This is only a pause for our series. We will be back.”