For the second year in a row, Mule Day in Columbia is cancelled. The decision is controversial among community members who are still hoping to find another way to celebrate.
Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder says the decision to cancel the beloved Maury County event was more difficult in 2020 than it was this year. Back then, there were only five people in the regional medical center with COVID-19.
He says the numbers made the decision for city leaders this year: There were about 45 patients in the regional hospital with COVID, and over 150 community members have died.
“I don’t think we are yet to a point where we can with good faith say that it is now safe to welcome close to 200,000 people to our community,” Molder says. “Certainly to me it seems to be a little bit of a slap in the face to our medical providers.”
Opponents of the decision planned a protest in Columbia Saturday to oppose the cancellation and to propose alternatives. Molder says he would be in favor of postponing the original event, scheduled for April 8-11, but the Maury County Bridle and Saddle Club, which puts on the event, wanted to cancel instead. Several vendors already backed out over safety concerns.
“We knew there was going to be pushback either way,” Molder says. “If we had said we support and endorse going forward with Mule Day, I dare say we would have received just the amount of pushback as we are receiving now.”
But opponents, led by county Mayor Andy Ogles and a group called “Save Mule Day,” met over the weekend to plan an alternate event on May 7 and 8. The group says on Facebook they still plan to have a concert and parade in Columbia. Ogles has not responded to WPLN’s request for comment.
Update: This story was updated Monday, Feb. 15, with the “Save Mule Day” efforts.