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COVID-19 cancels Pops at the Post, Bell Tower Green Park grand opening

SALISBURY — Organizers of Pops at the Post and planners for Bell Tower Green’s grand opening on Wednesday announced the cancellation of both events.

Worsening COVID-19 metrics are to blame for the cancellations.

Pops at the Post is a free outdoor concert held annually next to the Salisbury Post. The Salisbury Symphony gathers under the loading dock because of the roof’s acoustic qualities and plays to an audience gathered on Church Street and in the adjacent lot. This year, the event was scheduled to occur in conjunction with Bell Tower Green Park’s grand opening after taking a COVID-19 hiatus in 2020 and moving to the N.C. Transportation Museum in 2019 while the park was under construction.

In a news release, Pops at the Post Chairman Joe Morris said trends in local COVID-19 metrics compromised the ability to provide a safe, free, outdoor concert.

“Therefore, in the interest of public health, Pops at the Post will cancel the performance scheduled for Sept 11,” Morris said. “Our goal will be to reschedule the event as soon as our public health situation is stabilized and improved.”

Morris said a rescheduled event is unlikely to occur outdoors during the winter. He commended David Hagy, who leads the Salisbury Symphony, for “coming up with a beautiful plan” for COVID-19 control among musicians as well as a performance to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11.

“Hopefully, some people will start taking (COVID-19) very seriously,” Morris said, adding that the vaccination rate will need to improve for the coronavirus to to no longer be a concern.

State data show 56% of eligible Rowan County residents (those 12 and older) have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Fifty-one percent of eligible Rowan Countians are fully vaccinated.

Rowan County is No. 1 in the state for its number of COVID-19 cases per capita in the previous two weeks and eighth among the state’s 100 counties for total COVID-19 deaths.

The grand opening for Bell Tower Green, a $13 million downtown park almost entirely funded by private donations, had been scheduled one day earlier, Sept. 10, with performers and musicians. Dyke Messinger, president of the nonprofit that bears the park’s name, said fences will still come down in the next few weeks to allow the public inside, but there won’t be a grand opening event.

“Along with Pops at the Post, Bell Tower Green has decided to postpone our dedication and grand opening until the risk of COVID-19 has diminished,” Messinger said. “We don’t take this decision lightly as a considerable amount of work has gone into the planning and preparations for this event. The park will open in the next few weeks, but that date hasn’t been determined.”

Messinger said the grand opening was set to occur even as some small details remained unfinished at the park. So, the cancellation will also allow for final improvements to wrap up.

Mayor Karen Alexander said she supported the “very difficult decision” to make the cancellations.

“Health and putting no one in health harm’s way is my top priority,” she said.

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