The New Smyrna Beach City Commission approved Sept. 8 the plan for the 45th annual IMAGES arts festival Jan. 29-31 at Riverside Park.

The item was part of the consent agenda but was removed for discussion. Commissioner Jake Sachs suggested signs be posted at the event “strongly suggesting everyone wear masks.”

IMAGES hosts 230 artists and is responsible for about $1.7 million in visitor spending at hotels, restaurants and stores, according to a city staff report. Event host Atlantic Center for the Arts requested road closures, a beer garden area, and use of the Brannon Civic Center and Riverside Park.

Mayor Russ Owen said organizers submitted several scenarios depending on the pandemic.

“I feel like they’re prepared to pivot,” he said. “They have everything from an optimistic scenario all the way down to a virtual scenario,” the mayor said. “You can’t pull an event off like this overnight, you’ve got to prepare for something.”

The commission also approved bringing back the First Saturday Art Stroll on Canal Street and extending the event’s permit to make up for the last six months when it was suspended.

Also approved was a substitute for the Christmas Parade in which Santa will ride a float to neighborhoods throughout the city in an effort to prevent crowds of people clustering around a parade route. The city plans to post a map and schedule of Santa’s route on social media.

The city posted a voter information video on its website, cityofnsb.com, explaining its City Charter referendum, which will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot for New Smyrna Beach residents.

The commission formed a Charter Review Committee last year to update and amend the City Charter. Voters can choose to approve or not approve the proposed charter.

Links to the committee’s final report and texts of the current and proposed charters accompany the video.

The commission also issued a proclamation honoring fallen law enforcement officers and designating the month of September 2020 in New Smyrna Beach in honor of Florida law enforcement fallen heroes.

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