Goodbye 2020, Welcome 2021

The 2020 year began with high expectations. Cinco de Mayo fell on a very fitting Taco Tuesday, the 4th of July and Halloween were both on Saturdays, Christmas was on a Friday, and New Year’s Eve launched a 4-day weekend. It was a dream come true for the tourism industry and made promoting our area a breeze. However, none of these brought the major celebrations that we had expected.

Cancellations, rescheduling, temporary closures (including Indiana Beach’s closing), and too many unknowns came during the first quarter of 2020. How could we ever get through the summer?

Resiliency and advocacy are my answers. Local stakeholders, business owners, and elected officials all stayed unified as we adapted to the “new normal”. The announcement of Gene Staples purchasing Indiana Beach on April 23rd was our first glimpse of resiliency – maybe we can get through this summer!

Although our festivals were cancelled and the mask mandate frightened some, our summer months brought more visitors than we expected! White County was a tourist’s sweet spot, having outdoor entertainment at our local Indiana Beach Amusement Park and two lakes where people could “social distance” in their boats. Outdoor recreation not only survived in 2020 but thrived!

Local resort owners reported 2020 to be their best summer in the last 5 years! Restaurant owners and managers fine-tuned their carryout operations and remained as busy as the standard summer. Some local retail managers even surpassed their expected sale margins! The average performance of tourism dollars during the months of July, August, and September all paralleled the performance of 2019 – we did get through this crazy summer!

Late fall and winter brought new challenges – a second wave of COVID-19 and the low lake levels on Freeman. Both pose structural and financial threats to businesses and residents along the river or Freeman shoreline. We are currently still in the – how can we get through this phase, but my recommendations are consistent. Be resilient and advocate for our area! 

Let’s turn the pages in our calendars from 2020 to 2021. Let’s focus on the potential for our future. After all, a 4th of July Sunday, Christmas Saturday, and 3-day NYE weekend doesn’t sound too bad. Let’s have some fun in 2021!