Fireworks planned, but rest of CarmelFest remains uncertain


It takes months of planning and preparation to pull off CarmelFest, which draws thousands of people to Civic Square each year for a two-day celebration of Independence Day.

With less than three months to go and social distancing restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, organizers of Carmel’s largest annual event aren’t sure what the festival will look like this year.

The fireworks display, which typically caps off the festivities on July 4, is expected to happen. Other than that, it’s too early to know.

“Like everybody else, we’re monitoring the situation,” CarmelFest chair James Bednarski said. “We still have hopes that we’ll be able to do some (elements). I wish I could be more specific, but I can’t. Our biggest concern is obviously if they still continue to limit the number of people that are able to gather together.”

Typical CarmelFest traditions include a parade, live music, food vendors, a marketplace and a kids area. All of them involve large crowds.

Indiana is expected to hit its peak in COVID-19 cases in late April or early May, according to state health officials. Discussion has begun about easing restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the disease, but it’s not yet known when or how quickly that will happen.

Bednarski said the planning committee hopes to have enough information in the coming weeks to reevaluate the situation.

“We’ll be much better informed in May,” he said. “We probably could still pull something together if we’re not able to make a decision until June 1, but the longer we wait it’s going to be a lot smaller, whatever we’re able to do.”

Bednarski said CarmelFest, which is organized by the Rotary Club of Carmel, has never faced so much uncertainty its 32-year history.

“This is unprecedented, but nobody that’s alive has lived through something like this,” he said.

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