For more than 30 years, El Reno has celebrated Fried Onion Burger Day the first Saturday in May.
But not this year.
COVID-19 is disrupting plans all over town. Events, parties and concerts have been postponed because of the virus that has violently assaulted the world. So it was only a matter of time until Burger Day joined the list.
Last week, the Main Street board of directors voted unanimously to postpone the 32nd Annual Burger Day Festival indefinitely.
Shana Ford, Main Street director, said putting the festival off was the only option.
“El Reno Main Street and the board of directors wish to thank the city of El Reno, Oklahoma State Department of Health and Canadian County Health Department for keeping us up to date on the COVID-19,” Ford said in a statement.
El Reno started the Fried Onion Burger Day Festival in May of 1989. It has become a tradition, bringing as many as 25,000 people to downtown El Reno.
Ford said the festival brings visitors from around the world each year. “Vacations are planned down Historic Route 66 just in time to make it to the Burger Day Festival.”
Burger Day has a long list of canceled events to commiserate with.
Riverside School had planned a series of reunions. Organized by Pearl Heupel, these sessions were the first reunions the school had scheduled in decades.
The March 14 session was held before the fear of coronavirus fully set in. Students who attended Riverside from the 1940s to the ‘90s arrived at the school cafeteria to catch up and take photos. Several of them had stayed in touch over the years.
Graduates from Riverside’s original location, Fairview, also attended. The oldest graduate to attend was Dressel Powell, who graduated from Fairview in 1952.
The second session, scheduled for March 21, would have hosted graduates from 1994 to 2019. Heupel said that its postponement was unfortunate, but that she was glad that the first session ended in rousing success.
“I’m really happy that we got to meet,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect with the virus and the rainstorms. I’m happy we got to visit and talk.”
After Heupel retired from Riverside three years ago, John Hoops, former superintendent, suggested she organize some form of reunion.
These reunions were the first scheduled by the school since 1989. That year, former students stitched together a quilt that has been on display in the cafeteria since.
Another coronavirus casualty is the Fifth Annual Miss El Reno Pageant. The event, organized by the El Reno Chamber of Commerce, sees girls from preschoolers to teens competing in the event held at the El Reno High School auditorium.
Chamber director Karen Nance said the event will likely be held in late summer.
“We are letting everything shake out a little bit before starting to find a good date to reschedule,” she said.
Youth and Family Services had scheduled a 5K run fundraiser for March 29.
The event would have featured an Easter theme, with a Rabbit Run 5K and a Bunny Hop One Mile.
Carol Plemmons, community outreach leader for Youth and Family Services, said it is unknown when the event will be rescheduled.