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Cobourg pivots to virtual events during 2020 coronavirus pandemic

Closed Victoria Beach in Cobourg, Ont. on Aug. 19, 2020. Global News Peterborough file

Cobourg is known for its beach and summer festivals.

All of those festivals were cancelled this year and the beach was closed for the summer due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of the Waterfront Festival on the Canada Day weekend, the Town of Cobourg hosted a virtual celebration. And in-place of the sandcastle festival on the Civic Holiday weekend, there’s a virtual sandcastle festival running right now until Aug. 31.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — The Big Apple in Colborne, Ont., masks up

“They’ve posted a series of virtual sandcastle festival signs all around the Town of Cobourg,” said Coun. Adam Bureau.

“Each sign has clues for sandcastle festivals from different locations in Canada and all around the world. Participants are invited to take a tour around the world while exploring their own backyard, while they find signs posted in Cobourg’s stores, parks and landmarks.”

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In-all, there are 18 signs and there will be 10 winners chosen from a draw at the end of August for a $50 gift card to any Cobourg store.

“Every virtual campaign that we’ve done since COVID-19 started has had a support local aspect to it,” said Kara Euale, manager of marketing and events for the community. “We’re going to provide money for people to spend locally.”

Click to play video: 'Cobourg businesses working to bring customers back downtown' Cobourg businesses working to bring customers back downtown
Cobourg businesses working to bring customers back downtown – Jul 22, 2020

Meanwhile, council will discuss its beach closure again on Aug. 24.

Right now, the plan is to reopen it at the end of the month, but council could choose to open it only during the week or keep it closed until mid-October.

In the spring, the Town of Cobourg decided to cancel all summer events and close the beach until the end of August.

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“We’re feeling the effects of losing all the events this year, to be honest,” Bureau added. “Whether they bring 2,000 or 10,000 or more people, we’re still feeling those effects.”

While those main attractions have been closed or cancelled, the area has still seen some tourists visit, but a lot less than in a normal year.

“We are still seeing people coming from all areas, Quebec and Toronto. But tourism has definitely taken a hit,” Bureau said.

“Our tourism group sent out a message saying come back later. Right now we’re taking care of our own citizens, but come back next year. There is still tourism happening, but not like any other year.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Town of Cobourg closes Victoria Beach for the summer

To continue to spur on economic recovery in the downtown, another pedestrian walkway event is planned for this weekend on King Street.

There will be no vehicle traffic on the main downtown street so restaurants can offer patios, vendors can have extra space on for their wares in the street, and pedestrians can stroll about without having to worry about cars.

The Town of Cobourg is also looking ahead to this year’s Santa Claus Parade and Christmas Magic, wen thousands of lights illuminate Victoria Park and the waterfront area throughout the month of December.

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At this point, the plan is to go ahead as is, but that could change, depending on health directives and orders at that point.

And for 2021, Euale says the community is taking “baby steps” to figure it out.

“No one wants to rush into anything. We’re working with our local businesses and tourism partners for 2021. We want to rebuild. We want to bring people back to the community. But we want to do so in a safe manner.”

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