COOKEVILLE – Due to spiking COVID numbers among children 5-18 years old in the Upper Cumberland, WCTE PBS has regretfully made the decision to cancel Stations of Imagination for 2021.
“This will be the second year WCTE PBS has had to cancel the event due to rising numbers from the pandemic,” says Avery Hutchins, interim President and CEO. “It’s not something we want to do, but out of utmost concern for the health and wellbeing of our community, we believe it’s the right thing to do.”
According to state and local officials, the Upper Cumberland has seen a 26% increase in local COVID-19 cases and a 30% increase statewide in children 18 and under compared to one month ago when 18 and under testing positive with COVID were only 10% of the total cases in Putnam County.
“In Tennessee, over 3,000 patients are hospitalized with COVID, and that count was just over 700 one month ago,” said Lisa Bumbalough, Putnam County Health Department. “Our hospitals are at their maximum capacity with limited supplies. During this surge in cases, prevention strategies such as avoiding large gatherings, masking, and physical distancing continue to be ways to decrease transmission opportunities.”
For the last 20+ years, Stations of Imagination has been a free family event that focuses on children 2-12 years old. The event in the past has welcomed over 2,000 families to the Cookeville square the second weekend in September for hands-on learning with booth activities, glow parade, Sesame Street characters, and so much more. The event was started as way to honor Sawyer Johnston, the son of Brian and Rena Johnston, who passed as a young child. Sawyer’s family wanted to keep his loving and bigger-than-life personality alive, so WCTE PBS and the Johnston family teamed up to create Stations of Imagination. The event has traditionally been held in conjunction with CityScape’s Fall FunFest.
WCTE PBS is currently looking at safe alternatives, such as a virtual Stations of Imagination with activities families can easily do at home, or pre-packaged kits for pick-up that families can take home. For more information about virtual SOI check out wcte.org/stationsofimagination.
WCTE Central TN PBS has served the Upper Cumberland for more than 40 years as the region’s premier storyteller and is the only television station in a 75-mile radius of Cookeville. A strategic partner in education, health services, government, arts and music, WCTE PBS is a 501(c) 3 and is owned and operated by the Upper Cumberland Broadcast Council. WCTE Central TN PBS is one of only 350 PBS member stations nationwide.