MACON, Ga. — Thursday afternoon, the Cherry Blossom folks, people from the mayor's office, and the North Central Health District held a meeting about concerns regarding coronavirus and the status of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
It happened at the Cherry Blossom office and wasn't open to the media.
We chatted with folks downtown that have mixed opinions on the future of this year's festival.
The signs of Cherry Blossom have arrived -- the lanterns, the bows, and the banners.
Felicia's Cake Factory is decked out.
"We've been preparing for Cherry Blossom for months -- we provide cupcakes for the Cherry Blossom Founders Day, which is March 30th," Felicia said.
She's already bought all of those ingredients and has mixed feelings if the festival doesn't happen this year.
"So I'm torn about keeping or canceling -- one side wants them to continue with it because it will help our business, of course, but the other side is thinking about the safety of everyone and just wanting to be sure that everyone is safe and doesn't have that extra exposure," she explained.
Kyle Ake works at Cherry Street Ink.
"We have signs on our door. We aren't being rude, we just want to be healthy for our families," Kyle said.
They do have a sign that says, "If you're sick, don't come in because of the coronavirus."
He doesn't mince words and says canceling this year's Cherry Blossom Festival is a no-brainer.
"It's not just about the festival, it's about the people who attend the festival, and if you're inviting people here and they get sick at the Cherry Blossom Festival because of the coronavirus, well, it's not going to look very good on your brand," he said.
The Macon Convention and Visitors Bureau says last year, the Cherry Blossom folks commissioned the University of Georgia to do an economic impact study. They found the Cherry Blossom Festival brings in $10 million to $12 million a year.
"And that would definitely hurt us if they cancel the Cherry Blossom, because that is a very lucrative time of the year for us," Felicia said.
Felicia and others we spoke to had the same concern, but in unprecedented times, the Cherry Blossom may take a backseat to public health.
Cherry Blossom CEO Stacy Moore says they will hold a press conference Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the situation.
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