Rhody Run canceled; festival up in the air


The annual Rhody Run 12k race has been canceled for the first time in its almost 42-year history. Race director Jenni Little said the decision was made by the Port Townsend Marathon Association on March 13 after monitoring how other races across the country were responding to the burgeoning health crisis.

The fate of the Rhododendron Festival, which is not associated with the Rhody Run or the Port Townsend Marathon Association, has yet to be determined, festival association president Lori Morris said.

The Rhododendron Festival is scheduled to take place in the second full week in May, but Morris said they will not make a decision to cancel until the end of April.

“We’re going ahead right now as if we’re going to have it,” Morris said.

Certain events like the Float Reveal Silent Auction, which will now take place April 25, have been forced to reschedule.

Morris said the newly crowned Rhody Royalty are devastated as the Daffodil Festival in Puyallup and the Irrigation Festival in Sequim, where they were supposed to make their first regional appearances, have been canceled.

The Rhododendron Festival Carnival is still scheduled to take place at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in May.

Funtastic, the carnival operator, is still on board to facilitate the event unless the state requires they cancel; the festival association has until May 1 to make that decision.

Morris said if the festival must be pushed back later into the summer, it will be hard to find a date that does not conflict with another local or regional event.

There’s also the question of if schools are still closed or if it has to reschedule for a time when school is out for the summer, and how to facilitate the middle and high school bands that march in the Grand Parade.

“I’m hoping everything is going to be OK by then, and we can use it as a reason to celebrate,” Morris said. “We will do what’s best for the community, but it’s going to be a hard decision either way.”

Little said part of the reason the Rhody Run 12k Race was canceled two months ahead of the date was because there was a window in which they could cancel the order of roughly 2,000 participant T-shirts and issue refunds to people who had already registered, unlike similar races that have been forced to cancel.

The Port Townsend Marathon Association was able to rely on a rainy day fund they had been hanging onto “in case of disaster” to help make that happen, Little said.

Canceling now also will give Jefferson Healthcare, the title sponsor of the event, the opportunity to use the resources they would have contributed to the race on something else, Little said.


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Larry Kallenberger

I am surprised to read the comments of event sponsors. Please people! You are not being responsible if you are even thinking of holding a festival or gathering in the next few months let alone in May. This is the oldest age county in the state of Washington and one of the oldest in the entire nation. When covid 19 hits here it could be devastating. This kind of thinking is the last thing we need in fighting this pandemic. We not only have a peak to come but we have Dr Fauci saying we can expect a second phase of the pandemic later this summer and fall if we let up on our protective approaches and the need for separation and that we are likely to face one even with careful measures. Set an example in the community and cancel these events. Traditions are not important when measured against good health and life itself!

We should immediately demand that there be no repeat of the weekend concert last summer that brought 5,000 people a day from far and wide into and through our town. Let’s be responsible this year and protect ourselves in a place with one of the most vulnerable populations in the US. If you are thinking you will survive for one reason or another please shake off your selfish outlook and look out for others in greater peril.

There is nothing cool about celebrating in large groups this year. The 4th of July this year is a reason to be patriotic by doing what is necessary which means we honor our nations birth by helping the weaker of us survive. Maybe we can move the laser show to high ground where we can all watch at the same time but not in the same place. The larger the gathering the larger the risk with large gatherings creating an exponentially greater risk not just for the people attending but for weeks later an increased rate of infection.

We will find new ways to get along and gather safely but for the coming months(not a few weeks) job number 1 is protecting ourselves and our herd. We might all be better off if hand shaking became a thing of the past. Perhaps a warm smile will serve as well. Best wishes to everyone......

Wednesday, April 1
R Hanson

What are you guys thinking?.

I love Rhody but this year must be canceled, things will not improve enough for the celebration to go on by May.

No parade, no carnival, nothing. To entertain this seems a lack of understanding of our current situation.

Wednesday, April 1