Residents throughout Havre de Grace have been putting lights on the exterior of their homes, participating in the city’s “Light Up Havre de Grace With Hope” campaign this week, as they and their fellow Marylanders endure the latest restrictions on social interaction to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
Mayor William T. Martin and his wife, Taryn Martin, kicked off the campaign Sunday afternoon, announcing it from their porch and putting up Christmas lights.
Other residents were encouraged to do the same “a sign of unity and solidarity” and use the hashtag #HdGStrong when posting photos of their lights on social media.
“I feel that our citizens are getting constantly barraged with sad and depressing news,” the mayor said Monday.
More than 1,900 cases of the novel coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, have been confirmed in Maryland, including 34 in Harford County; 31 people in the state have died as of Wednesday.
Gov. Larry Hogan issued a “stay-at-home” order for all Maryland residents Monday, meaning people can leave their homes only if they need to go to work, obtain food or medication or visit the doctor — people also can go outside for recreation as long as they maintain proper social distancing.
City officials plan to require foot traffic on the the Havre de Grace Promenade, a wooden boardwalk between Tydings Park and Concord Point, to go in one direction from the park to Concord Point, rather than both directions, so people can better practice social distancing while still enjoying outdoor recreation, according to Martin.
“Please, please keep your distance,” he said.
Havre de Grace’s Light Up campaign, which Martin said was inspired by some friends who put out lights “because it made them happy,” is a chance for people to put out lights to inspire hope and show civic pride. The mayor said he hopes the lights will stay up until the governor lifts his coronavirus state of emergency declaration.
Martin and his wife went through town Monday evening and counted 55 residences decorated with lights, such as spotlights, Christmas lights and Halloween lights. The Martins handed out city flags at random to people whose houses were lit up.
“It’s really uniting our city for a common purpose,” the mayor said of the campaign.
He noted Havre de Grace’s historic connection to light, with the Concord Point Lighthouse illuminating the shoreline for shipping in the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bar.
“A light can guide you through a storm,” Martin said. “It can bring you through bad times, and it’s a simple hope.”
He noted city residents “can handle adversity like nobody else — Havre de Gracians, we’re tough people so we’ll make it through."