Like many other popular events in Northern New York this month, the 17th annual Polaris SNIRT Poker Run had to be delayed due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SNIRT Run was scheduled for April 18. But officials with the Barnes Corners Sno-Pals opted two weeks ago to postpone the event. On March 13, Gov. Andrew Cuomo prohibited all gatherings of at least 500 people.
“Club President Scott Mageson said the board made the decision in their meeting [March 13] based on recommendations by the Lewis County Public Health, the governor’s directive and concern by a number of club members and other authorities as a precaution to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus known as COVID-19,” according to story published March 13 by the Watertown Daily Times “The all-terrain vehicle event, scheduled this year for April 18, attracted about 4,800 people from all over the state, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Massachusetts last year, many of whom make hotel reservations a year in advance every year. The event is considered an excellent money maker by many business from Utica to Watertown and Adams to Brantingham.”
Word of the postponement quickly spread. Participants began declaring that they weren’t going to allow the state’s directive stop them.
“Within an hour of posting the decision, there were about 500 comments between the group’s Facebook page and that of the event, most saying the move was unnecessary and many claiming they would ‘ride anyway.’ A number of people were concerned about losing accommodation deposits,” the story Times reported.
This gave rise to the promotion of the Corona Run 2020. A Facebook page announced that ATV enthusiasts would defy Mr. Cuomo’s mandate and take to the trails April 18. This idea was not endorsed by county authorities or officials with the Barnes Corners Sno-Pals.
“They can’t stop this tradition! Let’s all ride on April 18th regardless if it’s SNIRT Run or not,” according to the Facebook page put up by organizers.
They tried to split hairs in justifying their idea.
“It’s not an event. It’s a group of ATV enthusiasts getting together to ride for the day,” Jodi DiPasqua, one of the Facebook page’s hosts, told the Times.
Sno Pals President Scott Margeson said he was concerned that holding this “non-event” could jeopardize the SNIRT Run down the road. Going through with this wouldn’t reflect well on ATV enthusiasts.
Al Garlock of Stittville, the originator of the Corona Run, is a member of a private ATV group called the Verona Mudslingers. He said the idea began as a joke, and he pledged not to do anything to risk the SNIRT Run’s future.
“I’m not going to do anything that jeopardizes SNIRT, and I’m not going to break any laws,” he said. “No one wants to ruin anything. We ride in a group of like 45 people and it’s a blast, but to break the laws? No, thank you.”
About 1,200 people said they intended to attend the Corona Run 2020, while another 2,700 indicated they were interested in it. So Mr. Garlock and the other organizers wisely decided to take down their Facebook page.
Good for them. They sold some T-shirts promoting their “non-event,” and they had fun with the idea. But they saw that it was building momentum and chose to quash it immediately.
We hope the SNIRT Run returns soon, and we’re glad these ATVers knew when the joke was over. Safety and prudence ruled the day.