This year’s Hood to Coast Relay is the latest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.
Organizers announced the cancellation Wednesday morning, citing health and safety and Gov. Kate Brown’s statewide restrictions on large gatherings through September.
Dan Floyd, the event’s chief operating officer, said state Sen. Betsy Johnson and Seaside Mayor Jay Barber “supported our decision with concern that bringing a large-scale event to Clatsop and Columbia counties may put the public’s health at risk.”
The relay takes place in late August. Last year’s relay brought 19,000 runners and walkers, and another 3,000 volunteers, to the coast. Organizers estimated between 40,000 and 60,000 participants, spectators, family and friends.
The event delivered more than $900,000 to the Providence Cancer Institute.
“We want to work with the communities that host Hood to Coast to produce a fun, healthy and safe event,” Floyd said. “We appreciated the local feedback that we received, and are confident that the decision we made was best for the participants and host communities. We’ll be back strong in 2021.”
The roughly 200-mile relay race begins at Timberline Lodge and concludes at the Seaside beach. Teams filter into town from early morning until night during the second day of the race. Vendors, music and trophy presentations follow.
In March 2018, Seaside and Hood to Coast inked a new contract, starting at $25,000 and increasing 5% a year through 2022, when Hood to Coast will pay the city more than $30,000.
The race, in its 39th year, is among many local events canceled because of the pandemic, including Seaside’s Fourth of July fireworks show.
Joshua Heineman, Seaside’s director of tourism marketing, called the cancellation another in a remarkable string of economic hits to Seaside due to COVID-19.
“Starting with Pouring at the Coast in March and now extending at least through September, 2020 is shaping up to be the big pause — truly a lost year for this community,” he said.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 3,416 cases and 134 deaths from the coronavirus statewide as of Wednesday morning.
The health authority tracked 995 test results in Clatsop County as of Wednesday, including 37 positive cases.
Gearhart’s annual Fireman’s Ball is another casualty of the pandemic. The fundraiser, in its 59th year, is highlighted by gaming, live music and dancing.
“The safety of our residents will always be our number one concern,” Mayor Matt Brown said.
The ball raises funds for necessary equipment for the fire department, City Administrator Chad Sweet said.
Donations, clothing sales, the actual fundraiser and the Gearhart Golf Links Tournament generate between $17,000 to $20,000, Fire Chief Bill Eddy said.
Countywide, the Clatsop County Fair, the Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival and the Astoria Scandinavian Midsummer Festival are all canceled.
At a press conference last week, Brown discussed her plan for the first phase of a step-by-step reopening of the state from government restrictions.
While the first phase allows groups of up to 25 people to gather as long as social distancing is observed, that limits most summer gatherings on the North Coast.
While the Seaside Civic and Convention Center is working on plans to reopen while maintaining social distancing guidelines, Brown’s phased reopening “will certainly have an impact on hosting conventions at least through September,” Russell Vandenberg, the convention center’s general manager, said.
New floor diagrams at the convention center will reflect room capacities to accommodate Brown’s guidelines.
“We have also created a checklist of precautionary guidelines that have been placed on our website titled ‘COVID-19 Response,’” Vandenberg said. “Overall, our clients are optimistic with what the future will hold and are eager to return to Seaside as soon as state restrictions are lifted.”