New Bedford City Council Seeks Reversal on Limiting Whaling City Festival’s Hours
NEW BEDFORD — The New Bedford City Council voted unanimously Thursday to request that Mayor Jon Mitchell ask the Board of Health to reverse its decision ordering the Whaling City Festival to close each night by 6 p.m.
Councilor-at-Large Brian K. Gomes, who sponsored the motion, and others said the local health board's decision made little sense given the loosening of the state's COVID-19 restrictions and the high vaccination rate in Massachusetts. Gomes' motion called on the administration to permit the Whaling City Festival, which is scheduled for July 8-11 at Buttonwood Park, to remain open until at least 8:30 p.m. on those dates.
"If the time doesn't change, I really believe the success of the Whaling City Festival is done in the city of New Bedford," said Gomes, who added that the festival's organizers have appropriate protocols to keep festival-goers safe.
Gomes suggested that requiring the festival to close by 6 p.m. each night would make it difficult for many families to attend, and would not be fair to the organizers and vendors who have spent money putting the event together.
Councilor-at-Large Ian Abreu supported Gomes' motion, calling the Board of Health's guidelines for the Whaling City Festival "a tremendous overreach."
"The data doesn't lie," Abreu said. "Eighty percent of the residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are vaccinated against COVID-19."
Councilor-at-Large Naomi R.A. Carney also called the health board's restrictions "a big stretch," adding, "We're not going to get people at the festival if we cut it off too soon."