For decades, a consortium of Moab-area churches have conducted a sunrise service at the Moab Overlook of Arches National Park on Easter morning. That event is not happening this year due to the park’s closure and the fear of the spread of COVID-19.
A back-up plan to hold an event in the parking lot of Old Spanish Trail Arena, wherein participants would sit in their vehicles and listen to an address over a local radio station was quashed by the Southeastern Utah Department of Health due to the gathering being in violation of a state-mandated 10-person limit, and concerns that people would mingle. Instead, the community will be able to listen to Easter service and celebrate a program called “Our Risen King,” from the comfort of their homes by dialing into KCNY 97.1 at 10:45 a.m. Sunday. The service will conclude at noon.
Pastors Geoff Thomas of Canyonlands Fellowship, Tom Ross of Assembly of God and Keith VanArsdol of the Community Church will conduct the service.
A local Facebook group called Moab Stone Soup is trying to develop positive activities for what would normally be Easter Jeep Safari. The event has often blended the Easter theme, because it has always occurred the week prior to Easter, leading up to “Big Saturday” the day before Easter.
Tami Woodruff has created an online event called “Moab’s Peep Safari,” calling on the marshmallow bunny-shaped candies that are a hallmark sweet of the season. “You can build a vessel for your peep to drive, take pictures and post them,” she said in a social media post. “You can eat your creations, smash ’em … the decision is all yours from the comfort of your own home and personal space.”
She encouraged people to make edible automobiles using household items. “Family involvement is a must!” she said. “Let’s show the world we got what it takes to band together, be creative, share a smile and laughter and keep our Jeep Safari alive while our Peeps drive.”
Another online effort that some locals have engineered is to place teddy bears in the windows of their homes and businesses, allowing families to drive around on a teddy bear hunt, while staying in their vehicles.
Bradon Bradford, director of the Southeast Utah Department of Health, commended the effort in a radio interview with Utah Public Radio Tuesday morning. He said those kinds of activities are good morale builders in the face of the economic and social struggles posed by the pandemic. “One of the things that has been heartening for me to see is the community efforts that allow people to have social interaction but still have social distancing.” He cited Moab’s teddy bear hunt.
“Those are signs that people — while there’s some nerves and a question mark about how we’ll make it through the next little while — right now they are supporting one another. I’m encouraged by what I’m seeing and hearing. If this goes on and on and on, people are going to get more anxious, but right now, with community support, that’s how we will emerge successful with this.”
Bradford said his waking hours are filled with concern about Moab’s economic crunch. “We don’t like imposing restrictions on people; it’s not a fun place to be.” He urged people to “take personal family accountability…Take ownership of your actions. It will help us get back to a different normal, but a good normal.”
When asked if current restrictions have “flattened the curve” of the pandemic’s spread, he cited a model that showed southeastern Utah on average should have had about 15 cases, but as of April 7 it had only three. “We feel like we have been ahead of the curve in some ways,” said Bradford.