Madison County leaders concerned about 10-day carnival during coronavirus pandemic

Madison County leaders concerned about 10-day carnival during coronavirus pandemic
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Wednesday kicks off a 10-day carnival in Madison. It''s happening in the Trash Panda's Toyota Field parking lot and in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

Kissel Entertainment held carnivals in North Alabama throughout the summer and it's raising some safety concerns.

Madison Mayor Paul Finley and David Spillers, Huntsville Hospital CEO, said they are a bit concerned about the carnival because if safety and cleaning protocols aren't followed. It could reverse the downward trend in coronavirus cases we are currently seeing.

The Trash Pandas said they believe the event is safe.

"We didn't have any say whether that was happening. Does it concern us? A little bit, but there has been events at the multi-use venue from the start," Finley said.

He said the city plans on closely monitoring the carnival to make sure health guidelines are followed.

Spillers said he shared Finley's concerns.

"If everybody just shows up and they forget everything we just talked about, then we will have a problem," Spillers said.

Kissel Entertainment obtained a business license from the city of Madison. Finley explained the cty can pull that license at any time, if inspectors believe the carnival isn't safe or following protocols.

Last month, Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong voiced his concerns about this same carnival in other areas of North Alabama.

"You put thousands of people in one location, it's difficult to not have community spread," Strong said back in July.

Wednesday, we reached Strong by phone. Strong said he's concerned about the carnival and it's highly questionable if it's a prudent decision, but he said it's in the hands of the city of Madison.

"Any time we are bringing people together it has to be more of a concern than not, but again that's autonomous from us and we certainly hope as people go there and utilize that they do that in a safe, sanitized and distance way," Finley added.

Spillers had this warning to carnival goers.

"What you have to think about when you go to something like that is somebody you walk past is probably COVID positive," Spillers said.

The Trash Pandas sent WAAY 31 this statement about the carnival:

"The Rocket City Trash Pandas have had thousands of people come through the gates of Toyota Field this spring and summer to enjoy the open-air facility, with ample spacing, in this time where social distancing has been so widely encouraged. To our knowledge, in all of the events we have hosted, no fans have contracted the Covid-19 virus as a result from attending any of these events. We feel confident that this Ballpark Fair will provide the same level of safety, and even more precautions will be in place to ensure rides, games and other activities are properly disinfected and cleaned. Kissel Entertainment has put an extensive list of guidelines and safety measures in place, which we have shared with all of the local media and are also available for fans to read on our website. The City of Madison continues to be a great partner and supporter of all our events to date. The Trash Pandas require that attendees for all events wear masks, will have temperatures taken at the entry gates, and are encouraged to sanitize and social distance throughout the duration of their time at Toyota Field. We look forward to a fun-filled 10-days of the Big Ol’ Ballpark Fair starting tomorrow, Thursday August 20th."

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