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Pumpkin Weigh-Off Still On; Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival Sidelined By COVID Concerns

HALF MOON BAY (CBS SF/BCN) -- While the world renowned pumpkin weigh-off with go off as scheduled, Half Moon Bay officials have announced the associated festival that brings thousands of visitors to the oceanside community has been cancelled for a second straight year because of COVID exposure concerns.

Half Moon Bay's city council voted unanimously on Tuesday night to deny the special event permit to the festival organizers, citing the need to protect public health. The council also decided to cancel the city's Summer's End Music Festival.

"It's a sad decision," Mayor Robert Brownstone said at the meeting, adding that he would look forward to the pumpkin festival every year. "I, in good faith, can't vote to have this event if I can't feel like we can really ensure the safety of all the attendees."

Though the festival's organizers, the Half Moon Bay Beautification Committee, had planned a scaled down event due to the pandemic, councilmembers felt it was not worth the risk.

The festival would have taken place on Oct. 16 with precautions such as hand washing and sanitizing stations, face coverings required except when eating or drinking and a pop-up vaccination clinic.

While 92 percent of San Mateo County residents age 12 and older have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, councilmembers noted that vaccination rates in some Coastside communities were lower than the countywide rate.

Cameron Palmer, president of the Half Moon Bay Beautification Committee, said the cancellation was heartbreaking to their committee, the community and the nonprofits who would have benefitted from the festival.

Last year, the arts portion of the pumpkin festival moved online, allowing people to buy from local art vendors through virtual sales.

In addition, a donation from attorney and benefactor Joe Cotchett helped support the festival's participating organizations in 2020.

"We were able to save the day last year but we're not in a position to do that this year, unless we get another benefactor that really pitches in," Palmer said.

© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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