As community buzz about a still-secretive Ellicott City special event hit a fever pitch Friday, crew members dressed mostly in black unloaded equipment from a dozen trucks including boxes labeled “wardrobe” in a parking lot just behind Main Street.
This comes two days after the Howard County government announced the special event in the historic district that will cause road closures, traffic disruptions and limited parking on Main Street from Friday through Feb. 28.
At least 20 people were setting up underneath two black tents in Lot D off Old Columbia Pike, with onlookers and business owners watching and taking photos, trying to unearth the reason for the county’s secrecy about the event.
Despite repeated requests for details about the weeklong special event, the county has refused to comment.
Several people have posted on the Howard County government’s Facebook post expressing curiosity and even frustration about the secrecy and lack of communication about the event.
Even County Council Chairwoman Deb Jung said the council has not been told about what’s happening.
According to the Howard County Department of Police Traffic Enforcement Section’s online permit database, two permits have been issued for Saturday and Monday labeled “TV shoot” at 3731 Hamilton St., which is the address of the Little Market Cafe that borders Lot D.
Business owners with shops backing up to the parking lot said they welcomed the temporary inconvenience for the chance at needed updates to Main Street, an area still rebuilding after catastrophic floods in July 2016 and May 2018 caused severe damage and killed three people.
On Thursday, the county announced a portion of Lot D will be closed and there will be limited parking on Main Street this weekend due to the special event. However, it said, there will be no road closures or traffic disruptions Saturday or Sunday.
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Howard County government also declined to comment if local businesses were made aware of the closures separately from the Facebook announcement.
A Mardi Gras on Main event is scheduled for Saturday from noon to 9 p.m.; the county did not say whether the special event would affect that celebration.
Alicia Jones-McLeod, executive director of the Ellicott City Partnership, the organization hosting Mardi Gras on Main, declined to comment on whether that event would be affected by the weeklong special event.
The county said Friday that there will be intermittent road closures Monday afternoon. Main Street will be closed for approximately 30 minutes at some point between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., according to another post on the Howard County government Facebook page. Howard County police will be directing traffic during that time.