MOUNT DESERT — Alissa Richards of Bar Harbor and Joshua Bischoff will be able to have their wedding ceremony and potluck reception at town-owned Suminsby Park off Sargeant Drive on Sept. 19.
The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday approved Richards’ request to use the park, but not without some reservations because of the potential risk of coronavirus transmission.
“This makes me really nervous,” Selectman Geoff Wood said. “I don’t want us to have the next Millinocket wedding.”
His reference was to the wedding reception in that northern Maine town last month where more than half of those who attended contracted the virus and spread it to other parts of the state.
Selectman Matt Hart said he agreed. “But in the grand scheme of things, this is a pretty small gathering for an outdoor event. It can absolutely, in my opinion, be done safely if CDC guidance is followed.”
Current Maine CDC guidelines allow outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people.
In her request to use the park, Richards said 40 to 50 people “at most” would be at the wedding “followed by a BBQ/potluck reception.”
Wood said, “I think it should very clear that the expectation is that CDC guidelines will be followed. We know they probably will not, but we need to insist that they do.”
The selectmen voted unanimously to approve the request to use the park, while making it clear that adherence to CDC coronavirus guidelines is not just encouraged but required.
The selectmen also approved, with little discussion, a request by a group of local professional photographers to take free portraits of families at the Seal Harbor Village Green on Oct. 3. The project is called Help Portrait MDI.
“It sounds like a portrait shoot would be a little more of a controlled environment than a wedding,” Selectman Matt Hart said.
Howie Motenko, one of the photographers involved in the project, said, “We are going to take temperatures and ask the COVID questions when the participants arrive. We’re going to ask everyone to wear masks, and they will just take off the masks when they are actually getting their photos taken.”
Selectman Martha Dudman joked that some people might prefer to keep their masks on.
“That’s OK; that’s their choice,” Motenko replied.
He and the other photographers involved describe the free photo shoot as a gift to the community.