The cancellation of Sunday's annual Cinco deMayo festival has triggered hate phone calls and has some residents of the borough's Mexican community angry.The event was cancelled after Kennett Square Mayor Leon Spencer declared a state of emergency, acting on a recommendation from the Chester County Health Department.
It wass the first time the event has ever been cancelled.
"(The cancellation) has nothing to do with the ethnicity of participants," Spencer told members of council Monday night. "The health department had a swine flu concern, and it was on that basis and that basis alone that action was taken."
Spencer said the event was cancelled as a precaution due to public health concerns associated with large gatherings and the potential for transmission of the swine flu (influenza A/H1N1) virus.
Councilor Jeff Darman said he was approached by some residents and wasn't even aware the event had been cancelled. He called on council to adopt more effective communication methods in events like this.
Darman said he couldn't understand why other major events in the borough over the weekend did not get cancelled. Even Cinco de Mayo's festival in New York City went on as planned with no problems, he said.
"I respect the difficulty of making this decision," he said, "but if the decision were mine, I would have made a different decision."
Spencer said there was a concern that because one of the entertainment bands was coming in from Mexico, it inflated concerns over swine flu.
Spencer said he received support from the event's organizer, Carlos Navaro Kennett Square officials and the festival's organizers are now attempting to plan a Cinco do Mayo event for sometime later this summer. That would need council's approval.
In Delaware, four University of Delaware students have confirmed cases of swine flu and six more are being tested to determine if they have the disease, state health officials said Thursday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed t four University of Delaware students had contracted the virus. Officials also identified six more University of Delaware students last week who may have the disease, bringing the number of probable cases at the school to 12. The CDC is testing samples from those students.
The Chester County Health Department's phones have been unusually busy this week as concerned citizens called with questions about what is now officially referred to as influenza A/H1N1. So far, H1N1 has affected significantly fewer people than the common flu, which kills 36,000 each year in the U.S., according to health officials.
While there is no vaccine, the flu is treatable. According to the CDC Web site, the swine flu responds to the prescription antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir. The FDA has authorized emergency use of stockpiled antiviral medicines.