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Our View: Thumbs down for fate of carnivals; thumbs up for graduates, help for businesses, Sykesville’s win

THUMBS DOWN: Summer won’t be the same around Carroll County as fire companies continue to cancel their carnivals amid the coronavirus pandemic. These are the largest fundraisers of the year for many fire companies, but safety concerns and potential COVID-19 threats took precedence, even after Gov. Larry Hogan this week again moved to lift some restrictions across the state. There is still some uncertainty for the future, causing some fire departments to postpone their carnivals rather than cancel. But strolling the midway at, say, Gamber or Reese, or riding the Scrambler with fall foliage as a backdrop just doesn’t seem the same. Canceling or postponing leaves the fire companies scrambling to come up with other ways to raise money during the summer months. But some organizations have wiped out their fundraising events altogether. Making the difficult decision to cancel one of the county’s most popular summertime activities can’t be easy, but worries or large groups and potential health risks proved too heavy. Funnel cakes won’t be quite as tasty this year.

THUMBS UP: We won’t soon forget the Class of 2020, seniors in high school and college who didn’t get to experience a traditional graduation ceremony. The coronavirus attached itself to this year’s seniors as a whole, keeping them out of their schools and away from any extra-curricular activities. High school graduations were set for this week, and Carroll did what it could to accommodate by holding in-person ceremonies while adhering to proper social distancing and safety guidelines. Communities also came together to recognize their seniors by hosting drive-thru parades. Taneytown and its surrounding neighborhoods held such an event Wednesday for Francis Scott Key High School’s seniors, one day after an automobile caravan from Manchester to Hampstead to recognize Manchester Valley’s students. (Although, photos showing folks not wearing masks bears pointing out. Please stay safe, everyone!). Social media posts have been honoring high school athletes and seniors around the county for weeks. It was nice to see people in Carroll come up with creative ways to recognize their students during an unprecedented time in our history, and give them as close to a proper farewell as could be hoped for in a bizarre year.

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THUMBS UP: Maryland enters the next phase in its recovery plan, as mandated by Hogan, and many Carroll businesses are looking forward to welcoming back their customers. The Board of County Commissioners agreed Thursday to proceed with Gov. Hogan’s move to enter Phase 2 beginning Friday at 5 p.m. That will allow for the reopening of many businesses that had been deemed nonessential during the pandemic. It looks like county officials are doing their best to preach proper social distancing measures and follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a tricky balance, no doubt. But the county appears ready to make the move. Retail stores, religious facilities, barbershops, beauty parlors and other personal-service establishments, such as tattoo parlors and nail salons, are allowed to open at no more than 50% capacity, with all staff and visitors required to wear face masks. Indoor fitness centers and shopping malls can’t reopen yet, and dining inside restaurants remains prohibited. But several businesses have made the most of the situation by creating outside eating areas, or finding space for gym equipment and small workout areas.

THUMBS UP: The Coolest Small Town in America wasn’t enough for Sykesville, which earned that label back in 2016 by Budget Travel magazine. This past week, the southern Carroll County town took first place in Independent We Stand’s “Best Main Street in America” contest. Sykesville received more than 125,000 votes in the website’s contest, and is set to earn $25,000 as a grand prize. Even cooler, Julie Della-Maria, executive director of the Downtown Sykesville Connection, told us that a large portion of the prize money is being set aside for for the town’s small businesses. Sykesville is set to receive its prize next month, and while Independent We Stand tries to celebrate the winner around July 4, things are being shuffled because of the coronavirus. Della-Maria said Sykesville had hoped to create a float for the “The Best Main Street in America” victory, but are now hoping to celebrate at the Year of the Woman event scheduled for Aug. 16 or the Arts and Wine Festival, which has been moved to September. Sykesville’s Main Street won the “semifinals” round against nine other municipalities across America. Some of the other cities might have cooler names (Chattahoochee, Florida, and Snohomish, Washington, in particular) but Sykesville’s chill factor continues to reign supreme.

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