The Westfield Welcome team saw the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to establish itself as a leader instead of an obstacle.
“Amidst the pandemic, (Westfield Welcome Director) Angie (Smitherman) and her team not only continued to do events but also flexed, and now they are really taking on that leadership role of COVID enforcement, particularly at Grand Park,” Westfield Communications Director Vicki Duncan Gardner said.
Smitherman said the organization schedules weekly meetings with event organizers to discuss guidelines.
“The guidelines are approved by the Hamilton County Health Dept.,” Smitherman said. “We go over guidelines and foresee hardships on how to manage the events based on the guidelines, discuss the guidelines they may add to their teams and we go through all that with them every week.”
Each Monday, Westfield Welcome sends the Grand Park schedule for the upcoming week to the Hamilton County Health Dept. Typically, event organizers screen their own players and coaches, and Westfield Welcome staff screens spectators.
“We don’t let parents in for a half hour after the players come in, and I do temperature checks and health screenings for them to ensure everyone indoors has been checked for fever and asked the right questions,” Smitherman said. “Everyone has to wear a mask the entire time they’re inside (the event center).”
When there’s a tournament on the outdoor sports fields, Westfield Welcome staff ensures there are only 250 people per designated area.
“It’s just keeping an eye on things and making sure everyone is following the COVID guidelines,” Smitherman said.
The dedication turned beneficial after the City of Carmel canceled its public events. Vision Event Management contacted Westfield to conduct a 5K race in Westfield instead of Carmel, where the race is normally held.
“We spoke with police and fire and pulled a plan together,” Smitherman said. “My team went out there and helped manage the start and finish line to follow COVID safety guidelines. We started in waves so people were not too close, and that went really well.”
Since then, the management group requested Smitherman’s help at another event in Speedway.
“Angie and the team, they historically have done the Westfield Welcome, they’ve done that welcoming, so it was natural to have them use those skills,” Duncan Gardner said. “The team is really trying to work with people to ensure they’re safe.”
So far, Smitherman said most Grand Park event attendees have willingly complied with the rules.
“It’s been well received,” she said. “I think people are looking for something to do live in person, so they missed that this year, so we’ve received many thank yous at the finish line or at Grand Park. Most of the people are willing to comply. I think people are happy just to have someone willing to do it.”
For more, visit westfieldwelcome.com.