The Cry'n Shames delight the crowd at Snook Haven

The Cry’n Shames provide music for revelers at the Myakka River United Way event at Snook Haven in October 2018. They will perform back in Venice this month as MainStreet gets its first concert since March.

VENICE — The Venice MainStreet Friday Night Concert series resumes in Centennial Park on Nov. 13 after an eight-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

If all goes well, Assistant City Manager Len Bramble said, the city could consider adding more, perhaps larger, special events and residents might get “a semblance of holiday seasons past.”

“We love our special events,” he said.

And if it doesn’t — worst-case scenario, someone gets sick from exposure at the concert — “it would have a disastrous effect on the continuation of special events right now,” he said.

“The success of future events is all in the hands of those who attend,” Bramble said.

Maybe not entirely. He acknowledged that the COVID-19 numbers “aren’t real favorable right now.”

Almost all of the special events in the city from March onward fell victim to a moratorium imposed by an executive order issued in March and renewed in July by City Manager Ed Lavallee.

But he announced at a recent City Council meeting that discussions with Venice MainStreet were underway to create a “re-entry program” for special events.

It’s taking the form of a three-concert series, said Nick Sperry, VMS Events and Partnership coordinator.

The concert next week features popular local band the Cry’n Shames. Another concert is scheduled for Nov. 27, he said, and a special one on Dec. 11 for the holidays before a break until January.

Although that’s VMS’ usual schedule, much else is different, starting with the need for people to register to attend even though admission is free.

Sperry said that there’s a limited number of tickets but didn’t disclose how many. Bramble said the city’s cap is about 150 but it may be a little flexible depending on the response.

“I believe it’s going to fill up,” Sperry said.

There may be a pent-up demand for entertainment. He said he went from scheduling “54 events a year to nothing.”

The same thing happened with his own performance schedule as a musician, he said, with gigs just starting to come back.

Concert attendees will be required to wear a mask, he said, and stay in squares marked off about 10 feet apart for groups up to six people.

The concert space will have a “soft” perimeter, according to Bramble, who said VMS is also required to provide signs and sanitation stations as part of its COVID-19 plan.

VMS will be following these precautions until the city lifts them, Sperry said.

“We really hope that people are respectful,” Bramble said. “All it takes is one or two bad apples to spoil it for everybody....We don’t want that to happen.”


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