CINCINNATI — For the first time since 2019, Cincinnatians were able to hit the riverfront and stake out a spot for Riverfest and the annual fireworks show.
Families like Kenny and Clarissa Hess' have made a tradition out of the event that annually draws thousands to the riverbanks — each year except 2020, when the COVID-19 virus forced most large-scale events to shutter.
"Last year we didn't because of the wonderful COVID, yeah," said Clarissa. "We're ready to open up, ready for fireworks."
The pair said they've been going for the last 13 years, after having their very first date at the fireworks show.
Others were worried that, as the delta variance has caused spikes in COVID-19 infections not seen since before vaccines became available, large crowds at the event could cause the virus to spread on both sides of the river.
Covington Mayor Joe Meyer expressed a cautious excitement for the event last week and said while he's happy to see the festival return, he's concerned it could turn into a super-spreader event.
"We'll have virtually our entire police department there, and if we've got 10 or 15 or 20 of our police officers who are exposed to COVID, that is a huge impact to our ability to keep the residents safe," Meyer said on Sept 1.
Attendance at the event was lower than in previous years, particularly in 2019, and families in attendance were focused on having fun and enjoying the festival.
"We're glad to be out here, especially all together," said James Hover. "Missing a year has been a lot, so getting everybody to come out and enjoy the time, especially with close friends and family."