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Downtown Akron Leaders Hopeful for a Better Summer in 2021

At Lock 3, the 'back-in-only' spots on Main Street have been replaced with parallel parking. Over the next two Saturdays, the city will put on farmer's markets featuring food, music, and arts & crafts.
Kabir Bhatia
During the pandemic, much of the Main Street road work in downtown Akron was completed. Now, city and community officials are planning socially distanced events to welcome visitors back.

Although numerous Akron events were canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, community leaders are more optimistic about the prospect of being able to host activities in 2021.

The Akron RubberDucks and the Pride Festival are slated to be back this year after social distancing concerns scuttled plans last summer: the Akron Marathon went virtual, and the Children’s Museum remains closed.

Executive Director Traci Buckner says there’s a small silver lining in the fact that they had to close last March, half-way through a major capital campaign.

“What we intend to do is, do our project in phases. Since there’s no people coming into the museum right now, we’re going to start the build-out of some of our expansion.”

Chris Anderson, director of the Rubber City Jazz & Blues Festival, says they also hope to be back in-person, even in a limited capacity.

“In 2020, we did virtual-only. We’re going to keep that element just to make ourselves available to people who can’t necessarily get down there or even people outside this area.”

At Lock 3, Operations Manager Tish Jernigan says they’ve put up modified signage in anticipation of more events this year.

“For our outside venue, we put up signs that say ‘masks must be worn when not able to social distance.’ Because that way – on a Wednesday, when people are walking through the park [if] they don’t have their masks on and it’s just themselves – if the sign says ‘worn at all times,’ people will actually call and complain to the health department that someone is walking through Lock 3 without a mask on.”

This week, the Downtown Akron Partnership also hopes to announce plans for limited St. Patrick’s Day festivities. The marathon is still hiring volunteers. And Curated Storefront, which produces public art installations, is already holding events downtown.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.