One of the best things we have in our community is the free summer concert series, Spotlight by Starlight, which has been entertaining area residents at Mason District Park since at least 1991. As one of the founders of the series, and host/emcee for a quarter century, I often joked that I spent my summer vacations at the park, one hour at a time! Live entertainment, both touring professionals and local talent, could be enjoyed all summer long, absolutely free. You didn’t have to dress up, buy a ticket, or pay for parking. You could bring family and friends, a picnic dinner, lawn chairs, or stadium pillows for the bench seating. Oh, and an umbrella for those times when the weather was iffy, but the show must go on.
When Covid-19 caused the cancellation of the June concert dates, I was disappointed, but hopeful. Then July’s schedule was cancelled, and I was a little less hopeful. Last week, when the August cancellations were announced, and there would be no 2020 concerts in the parks, I was devastated. No music, no chatting with constituents and answering their questions, no catching up with longtime concert goers and learning about new babies and grandchildren, sometimes great-grands. A wonderful community tradition vanished, abducted by Covid-19.
But not completely. This is not the summer the music died. Arrangements are being made for live, virtual performances for each magisterial district, beginning July 30 through the end of August. Virtual concerts will be held Thursday through Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m., with children’s shows on Saturday mornings at 10. Additional information about how to view the virtual concerts will be available soon, and I will share that in next week’s column. In the meantime, mark your calendars and plan to enjoy live musical performances devised just for you.
At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the first held in-person (masked and socially distanced) since mid-March, the Board approved an additional $25 million from the federal CARES Act to Fairfax RISE (Relief Initiative to Support Employers). The Board established the Fairfax RISE grant program in May, to support eligible small businesses, including non-profit organizations, to address costs of business interruptions caused by closures associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. The original grant program was funded with $25 million from the CARES Act, and was swiftly oversubscribed. More than 6000 applications were submitted, for more than $66 million in requests. Grants range from $10,000 for businesses with one to 10 employees; $15,000 for 11 to 15 employees; and $20,000 for those with 26 to 49 employees. The additional money is anticipated to fund approximately 65 to 80 percent of all applicants. Fairfax County is home to 11 Fortune 500 companies, but small businesses are the backbone of our diverse economy. Helping maintain their viability through small grant programs is an important part of getting back to whatever will be “normal” post-Covid-19.
Face masks and facial coverings are crucial to preventing the spread of Covid-19; they protect the wearer and everyone around you. Be safe, be smart, and be healthy. Wear a mask!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.