2020 is Ending, and Not a Moment Too Soon
In just a few days, 2020, the Annus Horribilis that seemed to last forever, will finally end. Where do we go from here? Floods. Fires. Hurricanes. COVID. Police brutality. The election. The ancient Romans had a name for a year like this. They called it Annus Horribilis—a year of disaster. We don’t know about you, but we’re glad to see 2020 end. Can we start over? New Year’s Eve is tomorrow, which puts us just a few hours away from a clean slate, a fresh start, and new opportunities. Before we look away from the wreckage of 2020, let’s pause to consider what we’ve learned from our Annus Horribilis. Blessings are hiding under the wreckage if you know where to look. If 2020 taught us anything, it showed us the importance of resilience, especially for Pine Bluff’s business community. We saw that all around us as COVID-related restrictions forced businesses to close. We all had to scramble to figure out how to survive the new normal. Businesses found ways to pivot—to present their products, services, and experiences in different ways. Here at Explore Pine Bluff, we offered our city’s assets as virtual experiences with the launch of new online products such as the Freedom & Blues Experience, the WA&P Radio Show, the Delta Civil Rights Legacy Trail, the Delta Family Adventure Trail, and the Pine Bluff Virtual Summer Sets music series. The silver lining: these online products made it possible for new audiences to see what Pine Bluff has to offer. People in Europe were watching Pine Bluff Virtual Summer Sets concerts! The year 2020 reminded us what’s really important in life. As singer Joni Mitchell once crooned, “…you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.” There’s nothing like a pandemic with lockdowns and the resulting isolation to remind us how much we value being able to gather with the people we love, especially our older relatives. Family really matters. Loving on your relatives over Zoom just isn’t the same. The year 2020 showed us that change is in the wind. Long-simmering social issues that have been ignored for far too long are getting the attention they deserve, motivating people like never before to participate in our nation’s democracy. Though this can be messy, in the long run, we think a good thing. So, what lies ahead? Here at Explore Pine Bluff, we have every reason to be optimistic about 2021. At this writing, a COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use by the FDA, which means that in just a few months, life should start returning to normal. Mask mandates will end. We will be able to see faces again. Capacity restrictions on businesses will be lifted. Revenue will start flowing again. Social distancing will be a thing of the past. We’ll be able to shake hands and hug each other again. Pine Bluff’s annual event calendar will come back to life, with events like Forward Fest, Railroadiana, Operation Skyhook, Boo on the Bayou, UAPB Homecoming, Catfish Blues & Soul Fridays, the UAPB Vesper Choir’s annual performance of The Messiah, and the Crossroads Festival drawing crowds again. And sometime in 2021, Explore Pine Bluff will be dropping some new bold ideas about how to draw even more people to our area….so put your seatbelts on!! We admit it. 2020 was a rough year. We can be grateful for what it taught us. And we can be grateful that it’s over. All of us at Explore Pine Bluff wish you and yours a safe, happy, and prosperous 2021. Happy New Year!