DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) – Despite the Covid-19 pandemic slowing things down across central Illinois, Danville never stopped celebrating their annual Community Day. This year, they’re ringing in the 28th event.
The city’s Human Relations Division and Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee both sponsor the event to give families a fun opportunity to enjoy their neighbors company. It started when almost 30 years ago, someone asked why the city only comes together once a year.
“So instead of getting together just for the MLK celebration, now we also get together for Community Day,” Human Relations Administrator Sandra Finch said.
With volunteers, donations, and help from the city, they’ve kept the tradition alive.
“It has really grown. We’ve had moments. Because of Covid, we still don’t have the crowds that we normally have. But we used to have up to a thousand people come to Community Day,” Finch said.
She said attendance has gone down over the last two years, and it’s going to take time for everyone to feel comfortable at large gatherings again. But this year, she’s still happy with the crowd that showed up to celebrate at Lincoln Park.
“Because times have changed, people are not coming out like they used to. But there are people who still want to come out. So we’re going to have this event for them,” she said.
One attendee also noticed the lower turnout, but said it won’t stop the party.
“I don’t think they did it when it was Covid, and I think this is one of those special celebrations,” Darius Shields said.
People across generations say events like Community Day are important. It gives people something to look forward to every summer.
“This is our park, we pay taxes. We love Danville, we love Illinois, and we – I know me – love people,” PJ Bourn said.
And there’s a bigger reason why they pushed through the pandemic to keep Community Day going.
“Not only the city, but the state needs to see that there’s unity, even after Covid,” Bourn said.
Finch has helped plan the event for over 25 years, and she said it’s light work when the community comes together.