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Waterloo Park grand opening festivities canceled amid COVID-19 surge

An aerial view shows the redone Waterloo Park in June.

After a decade of closure and renovation, Waterloo Park in Downtown Austin was scheduled to reopen with a grand celebration dubbed CommUNITY Day on Saturday. With the city in Stage 5 coronavirus risk guidelines and a critical shortage of ICU beds in the Austin area, the event has been canceled. 

"Though we wish we could celebrate the years of hard work with the fanfare this park and our community deserve, your health and safety are and always will be our number one priority," according to an announcement posted to the website for Waterloo Greenway, the nonprofit conservancy that has stewardship of the park.

More:Get a first look at the completely reimagined Waterloo Park in downtown Austin

Though the celebration has been canceled, the park, which features landscaped trails, a playground and a new 5000-capacity outdoor amphitheater, will still reopen on Saturday.   

"From this pandemic, we know how critical fresh air and open greenspaces are to our mental, physical and emotional well-being. With construction of the park and Moody Amphitheater complete, and despite the need to wait for a true community-wide celebration, we want to offer these 11 acres as a sanctuary for Austinites to be one with nature and to safely enjoy a new Austin landmark," the announcement said. 

Gary Clark Jr. is scheduled to play Aug. 20 and 21, the first two shows at the park's new Moody Amphitheater. Organizers told the Statesman on Thursday that the shows are still planned to go on, with additional safety protocols expected to be announced.