ONE SATURDAY DOES NOT A CITY MAKE
This last Saturday, in downtown Lake Geneva and the area that surrounds it, was inundated by tourists and residents alike. Visitors came from Milwaukee, Chicago, Madison, and from far away. They came because they had gotten the word that Wisconsin was “opened up,” and that just about anything would go. Well, it did not go, so to speak.
Half the businesses in the downtown area were closed, and there were only a few restaurants fully open offering sit down service. The weather was perfect. It was a wonderfully fine spring day; so clear, so pure, with plenty of sunshine and very little wind. The heavy traffic began at about ten in the morning and did not dissipate until late in the afternoon. A little past noon, a cameraman with the Geneva Shore Report made a video while sitting in his car in front of the local post office on Main Street. The video was a simple two-minute work, hand-held and turning this way and that to pull in the long lines of cars, extending up and down Highway 50 (Main Street as it goes through the center of town) from past the library and outside the city limits on the west side all the way to Highway 12 to the east, past Walgreen’s and Wal-Mart.
The traffic was worse than any other day for some time. Only last Memorial Day, where some roads had to be closed, because they were too packed with traffic, might have exceeded Saturday’s crowd. The current video received a hundred thousand views on the GSR Facebook page, and thousands more on YouTube. Over eight hundred shares alone. That simple video broke all GSR records for video popularity. Why was that the case? We don’t know!
There were few masks worn in town, by those of the massive crowd who chose to get out of their cars and stroll around. There were no gloves at all, at least not observable to the GSR reporters on hand. There was a little bit of an attempt by people to distance early on in the day, but that quickly disappeared after about noon, when the crowds became much denser. Everyone was orderly! There were no fights, no arguments to be seen or heard, and almost everyone was polite to the point where it was pretty unbelievable to be among the throngs.
What caused this massive influx of people was a grand release of social pressure. Whether that release, taking the form it did in downtown Lake Geneva, will cause a spike in the number of positive virus tests or diagnosis, there is no way to measure or conclude. According to the latest reports from the CDC, unsafe is a word that would have to be used to describe conditions last Saturday. On Sunday the weather closed in with cold rain, fog, and a whole day of grayness. That brought a sudden end to the influx. Nobody came to Lake Geneva on Sunday unless it had to for some other reason than personal enjoyment of the outdoors, or even indoors.
What will the coming days portend? The price of gasoline is very low, although the monopolistic Lake Geneva gas stations have been able to jack prices up beyond what is rationally explainable, the prices are still a terrific deal. Nobody is flying anywhere. Nobody is taking the train anywhere. That leaves car trips as the most attractive way to get up and get away for a while. Lake Geneva was that choice last Saturday, and everyone in and around Geneva Lake wonders whether a return of the great weather will result in a return of such a grandly dangerous social display of grouped and disobedient, but happy, visitors