MMHW file photo

MATTHEWS – Matthews Alive has been canceled for the second year in a row.

Lee Anne Moore, the Labor Day festival’s executive director, emailed stakeholders Aug. 6 to break the news. Moore told them the event’s board of directors was concerned about the Delta variant of COVID-19.

Festival organizers made the same call in May 2020, citing the logistics of social distancing and sanitizing common areas shared by potentially more than 125,000 people in downtown Matthews.

They announced extra precautions last month with this year’s event, including hand sanitizer throughout the festival, inflatable games instead of bounce houses and not using the Matthews Community Center.

“Given the percentage of unvaccinated people in our local communities as well as the infectious Delta variant, we had many concerns about being able to meet our standards for public safety,” said Chairwoman Julie Bee in a statement on the event’s website. 

Former Mayor Jim Taylor responded to the news on Twitter.

“This was a very hard decision to make but as a member of the board of directors of Matthews Alive, it was the only correct call,” he wrote. “We consulted our medical partners and got input from trusted sources to come to this very hard decision.”

Town Commissioner Ken McCool suggested to his colleagues Aug. 9 to reallocate money they would have donated to Matthews Alive to a town-organized event, such as Hometown Holidays. 

“Morale is low,” McCool said. “We’re in a second big wave of COVID again. I want to increase the morale of town. This is a good way to do it.” 

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