By Colleen Sparks
Businesses and non-profit organizations are finding creative, new ways to deliver popular, large fall events that are critical fundraisers and cherished community gatherings despite the Coronavirus pandemic.
Many of these events will move to online/virtual formats while some will be held in-person with rigorous, new guidelines followed to promote social distancing and cleanliness in order to try to keep people safe.
Arizona Restaurant Week will aim to entice customers to nearly 80 restaurants from Friday, Sept. 18 to Sunday, Sept. 27. Restaurants provide three-course meals for $33 or $44 per person and some will provide alcohol with the menus. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 80 percent of the restaurants taking part in the events will offer curbside pick-up for their Arizona Restaurant Week menu, said Susie Timm, director of public relations for the Arizona Restaurant Association. The restaurants will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s standards for safety and there will be a takeout option for menu items.
“It’s imperative that ARW happen this year, and be successful—these restaurants have suffered terribly during the pandemic and this will boost sales and visibility for sure,” Timm said. “It is a way for customers to enjoy their favorite time of year –and a way to give restaurants a sense of normalcy as well.”
Phoenix City Grille at 5816 N. 16th St. will participate in Arizona Restaurant Week. Sheldon Knapp, Phoenix City Grille owner, said every bit of business helps.
“The restaurant weeks help to attract more of the locals,” Knapp said. “A lot of people will try new restaurants that they normally wouldn’t be visiting.”
To learn more, visit arizonarestaurantweek.com.
The Great American Seed Up, a fall event that drew almost 900 people last year, will look different this year due to COVID-19. Ordinarily participants come to North Phoenix Baptist Church to scoop seeds into popcorn buckets and take classes. This year it will be the Great American Seed Up in a Box, where customers pick up their seeds rather than walking around in the church. For $160 you can buy a standard bundle with the first 25 varieties of seeds organizers put together for a group of 10 people, said Greg Peterson, one of the founders of the Great American Seed Up and founder of The Urban Farm and co-founder of the GrowPHX Collaborative. Ticket holders will be able to take classes online this year. They will be contacted about when and where to pick up the seeds this month.
The Veterans Medical Leadership Council was planning to have its 18th Annual Heroes Patriotic Luncheon at the Arizona Biltmore on Nov. 5 but will switch to a virtual format. This event typically draws about 600 people. This year’s celebration of veterans and their service to the country will occur online in an hour-long program with a musical tribute, a keynote speaker and recognition of several honorees from different conflicts. To learn more, visit arizonavmlc.org.
The Phoenix Veterans Day Parade, produced by Honoring America’s Veterans, will not take place in person due to COVID-19. However, there will be a virtual celebration of veterans called “USA, A Beacon of Liberty” streamed live on Facebook and YouTube at 11 a.m. on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Ordinarily the parade draws about 45,000 spectators in North Central. Students in grades nine through 12 also can enter an essay competition on the theme of “USA, A Beacon of Liberty” by Friday, Sept. 4 for a chance to win scholarships.
The online broadcast on Veterans Day will recognize veterans and highlight the high school essay winners while also sharing footage of a past parade, said Paula Pedone, Honoring America’s Veterans executive director and a U.S. Navy veteran.
Cancelling the in-person parade was a difficult decision but important to protect the health of everyone, Pedone said.
“The majority of our veterans demographically are 60-plus (years old),” she said. “Several have health issues due to Agent Orange and other issues.”
To learn more, visit honoringamericasveterans.org.
Elevate Phoenix, a local non-profit organization that supports urban youths, will hold its largest event of the year online rather than at its normal venue. The 4th Annual Elevate Phoenix Invitational hosted by Tom Lehman, will be livestreamed from 6 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 2 at elevatephoenix.org/invitational. The online event will offer silent and live auctions and corporate supporters will share stories about how the organization helps youths. The silent auction opens Oct. 1 online.
The virtual event is free to watch, but Elevate Phoenix hopes to raise at least $600,000 from it. To learn more, visit elevatephoenix.org.
UMOM New Day Centers, a non-profit organization that assists people who are experiencing homelessness, is moving its 12th Annual Walk the Walk to End Homelessness Founded by the Women’s Auxiliary to a virtual format Sept. 19. People can walk anywhere they like. Normally this walk is held at the Phoenix Zoo. To learn more, visit umom.org.