Remember early March? Back then, a night out meant going to a movie, going out to dinner, visiting friends and family up close and personal. Happy hour at our favorite watering hole has become adult beverages with friends over Zoom or sitting in our driveways 6 feet away from our neighbors. Before March, it would have been unheard of to enter a bank or grocery store wearing a mask. But now, it’s a thing – the only thing.
Back in the first week of March, the Chamber held our annual Spring Business Expo. It has always been a hit with our member businesses and residents alike. The Expo is our chance for everyone to come together face to face. And face to face it always was – with close to 1,000 people packed into the Sun City Center Community Hall. But unfortunately, with no chance of social distancing and the subsequent closing of Community Hall, our Fall Expo was not possible in its usual format.
Flash forward from March to last Friday: the Chamber held its first Drive Through Fall Expo. I thought it would be a nice event. Boy, was I wrong. I think those of you who drove through will agree it was awesome! Chamber members gave us valuable information about their businesses and services, which were packed into goodie bags. They also donated prizes to place in random bags. Residents drove through to pick up their bags. The Sunset Social Club had people dancing and singing along while driving through the parking lot of Prince of Peace Catholic Church. Don’t freak out — everyone was driving slowly while dancing. Our event was supposed to end at 1 p.m. However, people started arriving at 8 a.m. and we ran through our goodie bags in lightning speed.
And that leaves me with a lot of people to thank. Of course, we thank all of our members who contributed to the information and prizes in the goodie bags. Thanks to those members who joined us on site to sweat along with the chamber staff; To the Sunset Social Club for keeping us rocking on; To the Prince of Peace Catholic Church for the use of their parking lot; And to the Sun City Center Security Patrol for keep the traffic flowing. And, Jeff Merry, how you managed to flip the traffic pattern mid event, I still don’t know how that worked. To those members who helped stuff the goodie bags on Thursday, we couldn’t have done it without you. And to those of you who drove through, I can’t thank you enough. Your show of support for our member businesses means a lot.
I recognized a lot of you who drove through — even while wearing your masks — and it was great to see you. What I saw last Friday is that we are ready to get out and about while wearing masks and social distancing. So the chamber will continue to pivot and reimagine our events for the rest of the year. As I am sure Sherell is tired of hearing me say, there is a “work around” for everything. We’ll figure it out and, hopefully, see you again soon.
Lynne Conlan is Executive Director of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce. Call her at 813-634-5111, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.