Pleasantville Chamber, Officials Undecided on Whether to Pursue Oktoberfest

The Pleasantville Chamber of Commerce is cautiously optimistic that a planned Oktoberfest for Saturday, Oct. 2 will be able to be held as local COVID-19 cases continue to spike.

The current plan is to close Wheeler Avenue to traffic in the afternoon and evening in the village’s downtown, which would allow patrons to stroll to restaurants and retail shops. Live music will likely by performed by local musicians and student groups.

Businesses have been invited to participate in the event but because of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 cases in Pleasantville, the chamber is being careful about whether to hold the planned street festival. When the organization started working on the event in June there was one active case in the village.

At last Monday’s Village Board meeting, Mayor Peter Scherer announced there were eight new positive COVID-19 cases and 34 active cases in Pleasantville.

“In June the number of COVID cases was much lower,” said Village Board Trustee Paul Alvarez, who is also vice president of the Pleasantville Chamber of Commerce. “Now that’s changed, and it impacts everyone so we may have to scale it back.”

At the end of last week, the chamber reached out to village businesses and restaurants to see how many were interested in participating. The deadline for responses is this Wednesday.

“If we decide to have Oktoberfest, businesses will have to be flexible the closer we get to the date in case we’re going to cancel,” Alvarez said. “That way they won’t purchase extra inventory, food or hire extra people.”

The idea for an Oktoberfest celebration was first proposed by Soul Brewing Company owner Allen Wallace last year but it had to be canceled when COVID-19 safety precautions declared by the Centers for Disease Control and the Westchester County Department of Health restricted the size of gatherings.  

The plan for this year is to have the live music venue in the parking lot of Holy Innocents Church around the corner from Wheeler Avenue on Bedford Road. Discussions at the last two Village Board meetings revealed trustees were increasingly troubled with holding performances in a parking lot that could accommodate a large crowd.

Concerns include whether attendees would need to provide proof of vaccination, whether the church parking lot should be fenced in and the possibility of alcohol being bought and passed to an underage drinker.

“I personally, and other board members, are increasingly nervous about COVID,” Scherer said. “Not so much about the outdoor dining, but the concert venue. In August, the (COVID-19) numbers have been higher, and nobody wants to make it worse.”

The plan has since been scaled back with alternative settings for live music now being considered for Nonna Plaza near the corner of Wheeler and Manville Road and in front of the former Pleasantville Pharmacy, also on Wheeler Avenue.

“If enough businesses on Wheeler want to do it then we can move forward,” said Alvarez. “If those on Wheeler are not for it, we would cancel and hold the idea for next year.”

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