A food truck vendor serves customers from their vehicles during the Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival at Chilliwack Heritage Park on Saturday, July 11. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

A food truck vendor serves customers from their vehicles during the Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival at Chilliwack Heritage Park on Saturday, July 11. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

TOP STORIES 2020: How Chilliwack events pivoted in the time of COVID-19

Cancelled, virtual, drive-thru: people adapted to new ways of socializing in the midst of a pandemic

In the middle of March, people in Chilliwack were flooded with COVID-19 information and The Chilliwack Progress was struggling to keep up with it all.

With events being nixed left, right and centre, we published a story on what had been postponed, or cancelled altogether.

READ MORE: Here’s what’s closed, cancelled or postponed in Chilliwack due to COVID-19

“Wow! Even an event scheduled for May has been cancelled,” wrote one social media reader.

Little did she, or anyone, know the pandemic would still be affecting us to this day.

People and organizations pivoted their events to the best of their abilities. Everything changed – there likely wasn’t one event in Chilliwack that went ahead as usual during COVID-19.

Major events that typically draw thousands of people every year were gone. No Party in the Park, no Canada Day celebrations, no trade shows at Chilliwack Heritage Park.

But other events did go ahead. Organizers found different workarounds.

There was the Outdoor Rotary Book Sale which was set up in a gravel lot so big a soccer match could have been played there.

People check out the items for sale during the Chilliwack Rotary One-Day Book Sale on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

People check out the items for sale during the Chilliwack Rotary One-Day Book Sale on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Other outdoor events went ahead, like various flower festivals and the Chilliwack Corn Maze, but the number of guests were limited.

A drive-thru version of the Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival filled the parking lot of Heritage Park in July, while school parades drove through the neighbourhoods of their students as people honked and waved from a distance.

When restrictions were lifted slightly, indoor events commenced under strict protocols. The Chilliwack Cultural Centre once again opened its doors to live entertainment but limited its seating to 50 people in the main theatre.

And then there were the oodles of virtual events.

Concerts, workshops and seminars went online, along with bigger events like the Chilliwack Fair and the Christmas parade.

Countless musicians released albums during the pandemic and hosted virtual launch events from home.

Some folks made the best of the situation and powered through the ever-changing public health restrictions.

Just days before an in-person Christmas pop-up mall was supposed to happen, it was cancelled.

Lee-Ann Hendrickson and Sharon Dueck had gone above and beyond to try and bring some normalcy to the holiday season with their Christmas Gifts Pop-Up Mall.

So, the two turned it into an online market instead.

“We are doing this for the vendors,” Hendrickson said. “It’s for them. We need to put food on everybody’s table and be able to pay bills.”

READ MORE: Pop-up mall in Chilliwack forced to cancel due to new regulations, moves online

Earlier in the year, local branches of the Fraser Valley Regional Library switched to online story times and filmed educational videos in the great outdoors.

One library program – ‘Explorytime’ which is based on STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) – could have still been offered inside the library but to a much lesser degree.

“It’s an unintended wonderful thing that has come out of an unfortunate time,” librarian Julie Penner said. “It’s definitely a silver lining.”

READ MORE: ‘Silver lining’ to pandemic as Chilliwack librarians bring learning outside

Another good thing, event-wise, that came from the pandemic was the Give-A-Thon. Hosted by Chilliwack Economic Recovery Network, it was one single event aimed to help more than 10 local charities. More than $100,000 was raised in 12 hours.

READ MORE: Chilliwack Give-A-Thon hits $100,000 mark

Regardless of how events changed, everyone is looking forward to a return to normal with the prospect of vaccines on the horizon.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on?
Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
Twitter: @PhotoJennalism

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