Over the past few days we’ve received numerous emails from people with the same question: Will Sun ’n Fun still start on May 5th? The reason they’re asking, of course, is that it seems so unlikely that it could happen. But has the organization announced any new plan? Last we heard, it hadn’t. So given that it’s March 31st, the original start date of the event, we thought it was a good time to inquire of Sun ’n Fun once again. And we got a reply.
Three weeks ago when we asked the organizers what the plan was—the virus had just been upgraded to pandemic status—they said they were sticking with March 31st, emphasizing that it was going to happen.
But over the course of the next couple of days, that certainty disappeared, and Sun ’n Fun announced it would postpone until May 5th, pending approval from the City of Lakeland. Since then the event’s homepage/COVID-19 message has been updated a little, but is still hopeful of a May 5th start date, which it says is supported by the FAA, Polk County, Lakeland Linder International Airport and the City.
But things have worsened drastically, which Sun ’n Fun organizer Greg Gibson said the organization is “keenly aware of.” When we first contacted Sun ’n Fun several weeks ago, there were two cases in the state and no mandated stay-at-home orders anywhere.
As of this morning, statewide in Florida, there are currently 5,704 cases of COVID-19, with more than 700 people hospitalized. There have been 71 deaths statewide as a result of the virus. In Polk County, in which Lakeland lies, there are 63 cases, with an age range from 8 to 88, with 21 of those people requiring hospitalization. Thankfully, there have as yet been no coronavirus deaths in Polk County.
The note that we found intriguing is this:
“SUN ’n FUN is keenly aware of the developing situation surrounding COVD-19, and we are methodically evaluating all information as it becomes available. We will make decisions that are in compliance with all local, state, and federal guidelines, and always act in the best interests of the health and well-being of our collective stakeholders. We will issue an official update early next week that takes all available information at that time into account.” (The emphasis is ours.)
What does this mean? Will next week’s “update” be just that, a status quo checking in, or is there another postponement or a cancellation in the works? We shall let you know as soon as we learn more.