This past summer my husband, Brad, and I had the opportunity to attend the first and last weeks of the 9-week Chautauqua season. We stayed in the Mayflower the first week. We received our passes at the gate and then went to the far end of Bestor Plaza to show our vaccination cards and get our passes stamped certifying that we were in compliance with the COVID rules. This allowed us to freely roam the campus and enter the amphitheater, always wearing our masks.
Because of Covid hesitancy the first week the house only had two rooms occupied, aside from staff, who resided on the fourth floor. We very much appreciated the new toilet and shower facilities. If you drop your soap, you can actually reach the floor of the shower to pick it up!! Because of the small number of guests, it afforded us lots of opportunity to get to know the staff and other attendees very well!
The programming was definitely scaled back from previous years and the Hall of Philosophy was not used at all (because it was impossible for social distancing to be achieved there). The great majority of programming took place in the amphitheater. We also enjoyed plays which were presented in a temporary outdoor structure at the end of Pratt Avenue.
There were not as many fine arts and nature offerings after the afternoon lecture as we usually had. But that allowed us time to try out the new dining venues on the lakefront. During Week 9 there was a daily food truck and a bar with comfortable seating which was a pleasant way to wind down the day. As usual, we enjoyed the evening entertainment which was always in the Amphitheater.
Our impression of week 9 was of a more typical Chautauqua experience. The houses were much closer to the 50% of capacity limit set for the season and our impression was that attendance overall was up. The schedule of programming also seemed more complete. Week 9 we stayed in RCH and enjoyed sitting on the wonderful living room/porch with its bird’s eye view of Bestor Plaza and all that goes on. Again, we wore our masks, attended great lectures, heard inspiring sermons (this week from our UCC Denomination President, Reverend John Dorhauer) and got to make many new friends and renew friendships with old friends.
Probably the best part was that Chautauqua was a very safe and enjoyable place to spend part of our summer. Thanks to the entire Chautauqua UCC board, staff, and Evadne for their effort and planning for a safe experience for everyone under very challenging circumstances.