BLUE ASH, Ohio — Brian Donnellan, owner of Nanny Belle’s Ice Cream Shop in Blue Ash, supports the decision to cancel the city’s annual Red, White & Blue Ash event this July 4, but the revenue brought in by the tens of thousands who attend each year won’t go unnoticed either.
“I mean it’s great for everybody,” said Donnellan. “All the way from us being here year round to all the food truck vendors and everybody. This hurt more than just the four restaurants up here. Five restaurants up here.”
The Fourth of July event was canceled due to concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The holiday is one of the busiest days of the year for many local businesses in Blue Ash, and the cancellation has had economic ripples throughout the community.
“When they cancelled it we were all very disappointed but very understandable. Being a family owned and operated [business] we treat our employees like family,” said Donnellan. “We don’t want anything to happen to them and we don’t want anything to happen to our patrons.”
Shawn McCoy, owner of Brown Dog Cafe said the summer season is important to his business, but the pandemic has kept many people indoors and out of restaurants, even after Governor Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order began to slowly lift.
“The summer is when we make our money,” said McCoy. “I’ll be in a worse position in the winter. But I think the winter might rebound as people move in next door and the homes are finishing up. I really think it might be next summer we really come back to normal.”
Although the festival’s cancellation will have an impact on local business owner’s bottom lines, Donnellan and McCoy both said their businesses will still pull through just fine.
Both businesses decided to close for the holiday in expectation of small crowds, and to give employees a chance to celebrate the holiday on their own.
“But you know you’ve got to be open minded to what’s going on,” said Donnellan. “The health of everybody around is more important than one event. One event’s not going to stop us. Not going to shut us down.”
The only other time the 30-year-old festival has been canceled in its history was for severe weather in 2005.