PLAINVILLE — The Plainville Fire Company cancelled its annual hot air balloon festival Monday, citing concerns and uncertainties due to the coronavirus.
“It's very, very difficult for us to make this decision but … we’re a public safety organization so we’re kind of compelled to do the right thing,” festival coordinator Jim Lenois Jr. said.
The 36-year-old festival has never been cancelled in its entirety before. It usually runs for a full weekend in August.
Lenois said the fire company felt it would be dangerous for the usual 30,000 plus people to gather while the coronavirus is likely to still be prevalent, but they also didn’t want to have to ask local businesses and people for donations when so many are struggling on their own.
Lenois said the company went back and forth on the decision for about a week, and finally determined to cancel it over the weekend.
"In our heart of hearts, (we know) you can’t go ask people to help you when they’re struggling themselves,” he said.
The fire company usually brings in about $20,000 through its food booth every year. Those funds go to helping run the department, but are also donated back into the community.
The company donates about $7,000 in scholarships every year and helps fund sports leagues in town, Lenois said last year.
Not collecting those funds this year will definitely be a hit, he said, but “not devastating” thanks to rainy day funds.
The fire company still plans to hold the festival again in 2021.
“Next year it’ll be even better,” Lenois said.