The Lost Chicago Summer of 2020: Tough decisions, but necessary ones

Can you imagine hundreds of thousands of people being allowed to pack the lakefront in August for the Air & Water Show? Or the Taste of Chicago in July?

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People enjoy the annual Chicago Blues Festival. | Erin Brown/Sun-Times

A crowd enjoys last year’s Chicago Blues Festival. The popular summer event has been cancelled this year because of COVID-19 fears.

Summertime is a month away, but it feels like we’re saying goodbye before it even arrives.

Illinois’ coronavirus shutdown likely will keep most of us inside at least until June, and many of those big summer bashes for which Chicago is celebrated won’t be coming back even then.

The Chicago Gospel Music Festival, Blues Fest and the Chicago House Music Conference & Festival — major annual May events that draw big crowds and signal the start of summer — already have been scrubbed because of COVID-19 fears.

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Chicago’s Memorial Day Parade scheduled for May 23 has been cancelled. Pride Fest, which was set for June 20 and 21, has been postponed until Sept. 5 and 6. The Chicago Pride Parade hasn’t been cancelled yet, but organizer Tim Frye hinted at the possibility, telling Windy City Times, “Unless something astonishing happens, I think it’s unlikely we’ll be on for June 28.”

Tough decisions, but necessary ones.

Summer as usual would be deadly this year.

Without some kind of breakthrough soon on the coronavirus front, can you imagine hundreds of thousands of people being allowed to pack the lakefront in August for the Air & Water Show? Or in July for the Taste of Chicago? Or in August for Jazz Fest?

Not to mention the multitude of summer festivals, art fairs, film nights in the park and street parties that make every Chicago summer a treat.

This hurts. Summer in Chicago is our warm, festive and all-too-brief reward for harsh winters and cool springs.

But we also know that summer as usual this year would be deadly. The Lost Chicago Summer of 2020 is looking like another sacrifice a smart city should be willing to make to slow and beat back the spread of COVID-19. As it is, the Centers for Disease Control is now warning that a second, more virulent, wave of the virus could hit the country come winter.

And there are still other ways to revel in the season, especially once many restrictions ease up. Bike rides, runs and long walks. Lemonade on the front porch. A beer in the backyard. Kids running through sprinklers.

That sort of thing.

In the meantime, as sports fans in this town have been saying forever: “Wait till next year.”

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