AUSTIN (KXAN) — Annual events were held across Central Texas this weekend, drawing big crowds despite heightened restrictions from COVID-19’s resurgence.
Hospitals across the region are still running out of room. As of Saturday morning, six ICU beds are available in the Austin region, which covers 11 counties. That means 98.6% of all ICU beds are currently in use.
Even still, the brats were on the grill and deejays were spinning.
At Republic Park downtown, Austin celebrated its 182nd birthday bash — a return to in-person festivities after 2020’s virtual event. However, the Downtown Austin Alliance made some operational changes to increase safety.
Sponsors were not invited this year to minimize on interactions. People were encouraged to wear masks, and there were visible hand sanitizing stations across the park. The organizers also assembled goodie bags for children instead of having hands-on arts and crafts booths.
When publicizing the event, the DAA emphasized people should follow Austin Public Health’s COVID-19 guidelines: wear a mask, avoid large gatherings for high-risk individuals and get vaccinated.
APH said those who were unvaccinated should stay home and not come.
“We just wanted to make sure that everyone that was out here was using every safety precaution possible,” said Mandi Thomas, senior director of marketing for the DAA.
The event being held outdoors led people to relax. Likewise, in Marble Falls, people flooded to the Colorado River for the return of Lakefest, a competitive drag boat racing event that has been absent for three years due to various circumstances.
Christina Hudgins, who was watching and competing with her family, said it was important to act safely but didn’t allow the surging virus to hold her back from enjoying the day.
“You can’t live in fear. You can’t live in fear. Come out, have a good time. Be safe, on your terms. Do you,” Hudgins said. “If it makes you feel comfortable to wear a mask around people, then you do it. If not, then you don’t.”