SEATTLE - Labor Day was the last of a three-day outdoor block party in Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Organizers of Come Out Seattle did not require guests to wear a mask during their free outdoor holiday weekend event, though King County would start a new mask mandate on September 7 at all outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more.
Come Out Seattle was hosted by Union Seattle, a cocktail bar and eatery in Capitol Hill. Gregory Scheaffer, co-owner and party organizer, said his team wasn’t sure if they should move forward hosting the block party since COVID-19 delta variant case numbers were increasing. He said after much thought, they decided to continue with the event for vaccinated guests only.
"The pandemic is something that really is important. We even had a pop-up vaccination site here at Union in the month of June. And we think it’s a necessity for people to really come together for the community, get vaccinated, make sure everyone is being safe," said Scheaffer.
Though security guards required proof of vaccination and matching ID upon entry, they did not force people to mask up. Scheaffer said his team had always encouraged masks and posted signs throughout the space recommending them. Several attendees wore face coverings outdoors, Monday, ahead of King County’s upcoming outdoor mask mandate.
"I guess it’s a necessary evil," said Carl Erickson, who wore a mask all three days of the block party. "I think we’ve gotten to a point where we have to anticipate certain measures are going to take place. And we can’t let our life just go to the wayside. There’s got to be a fine balance between let’s live life and enjoy it, but also protect ourselves and the people around us as best as we can."
"I hope as we move into the winter and the fall months that are coming ahead with the pandemic still continuing to be a concern that people know they’re part of something bigger than just themselves," said Scheaffer.
Union hosted the event as an end-of-summer celebration, bringing the LGBTQ community and allies together one last time before the season changed. Some people in attendance said Come Out Seattle was more than just a block party.
"This has been such a cool release of a lot of time spent alone," said Erickson. "I didn’t realize how bad quarantine was until I started getting around people again. And then I realized how much I need community and I need connection. I need to find a way to just to connect to other people."
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