Gatherings: In Jeopardy

September 1st, 2020 by

In early August, the city of Peoria, IL made international news for their 10th annual “White Trash Bash” that occurred on August 1, 2020. 

So, what is the “White Trash Bash”? It’s an annual party on the Illinois River in East Peoria, Illinois. Many people gather in their boats to drink and hang out and party with their friends. This year’s party was the 10th annual in the party’s history. 

Well, why did it make international news? If you’ve been living under a rock (which honestly sometimes sounds better than being constantly inundated with the world’s current events), it’s because this party occurred in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though we are starting our sixth month of this “new normal,” the party’s organizer still moved forward with the White Trash Bash, posting in March, before shutdown even occurred, that they “would not be canceling the White Trash Bash, regardless of the Coronavirus situation.” As the time came closer, the organizer confirmed that the White Trash Bash was going to move forward, and instructed everyone to use their own discretion and best judgment. This means if someone wanted to come party, they were explicitly encouraging the same. The Fon du Lac Park District Police Department operates one of the only maritime police agencies in the region, and while they did not have the authority to enforce crowd sizes and protective measures, their duties were to deter crime and respond to water-related emergencies, such as boating incidents and injuries.

As of August 1, 2020, Illinois was in Phase 4, which only permitted gatherings of up to 50 people, however, allowed all outdoor recreation. Looking at the photos from the White Trash Bash, there appeared to be more than 50 people all gathered closely together to party and have a good time. There have been other news reports of Illinois residents not heeding medical officials suggestions on how to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Some people have relocated their large scale events to other states, like Indiana, where the restrictions vary on the size of gatherings. Some businesses have pushed the button on the restrictions and guidelines set forth by Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order and have allowed patrons to gather in large groups, or in groups that aren’t following the coronavirus safety guidelines which include social distancing, wearing masks, etc. 

Throughout the state, positive COVID-19 results have again been on the rise, and regions of the state are going into modified provisions of Phase 4 in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.  As of August 26, 2020, residents and businesses in Will and Kankakee counties have now had to revert back to stricter restrictions as both counties have surpassed the 8% spread rate.  What does this mean? Businesses, specifically restaurants and bars in these counties, are prohibited from serving patrons indoors and are only able to serve patrons outdoors. Many small businesses were only starting to try to recover from the first round of restrictions that were implemented and now, due to the continued and increased spread of the virus, their businesses may be jeopardized again. 

Regardless of your politics, or how you feel about the COVID-19 pandemic, please make sure you are engaged in safe practices to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Human decency is free, and it doesn’t take much to protect yourself and others. 

Written by Kelli M. Lardi

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