La Crosse community leaders create video to advise against Oktoberfest gatherings

Local News

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The Golden Keg at La Crosse’s Oktoberfest was supposed to be tapped Friday morning. However, the fest is canceled due to the pandemic. Some people still plan to celebrate at bars all weekend long. First News at Nine’s Hayley Spitler shares how several organizations are joining forces to urge a certain age group to stay home instead.

Oktoberfest USA is La Crosse’s largest event bringing in over 15 million dollars annually according to a UW-Whitewater study. While official events are canceled, some are worried students still plan to head to bars this weekend.

As a result, all three colleges, the two health systems, La Crosse County Health Department, and others partnered to create a video message.

Mayo Clinic Chair of Pediatrics and Critical Care, Dr. Joseph Poterucha said, “Rates are skyrocketing here in La Crosse and it’s really that 20-29-year-old population. We have to do something about this. Things are going to get shut down. Businesses, school, we are looking at possibly you going back home.”

Covid cases continue to increase with La Crosse County reporting more 28 hundred Thursday.

Poterucha reminds students: the choices you make can impact others.

“It says a lot about you as a person. It says a lot about your interests. It says a lot about who we are as young people in La Crosse. We can step it up. We can do this,” said Poterucha.

UWL’s Lisa Klein was instrumental in bringing community partners together.

UWL Community Engagement Coordinator, Lisa Klein said, “It’s important for people to see themselves in the message so that they know that their peers are taking this seriously.”

With that in mind, the video included Viterbo student leaders and Cate Wiza the UWL Student Association President. While Wiza will be staying home this weekend, she admits it isn’t easy.

“I won’t lie to you, it is disappointing. I would love to hang out with my large group of friends, but the fact is that there is a problem in La Crosse and it is stemming from the activities that college students are choosing to participate in,” said Wiza.

The UWL senior also warns that if students don’t listen, classes may not be able to resume in-person October 5th. Overall, the university hopes the video makes the main message clear.

Klein said, “Don’t gather. All of us have heard it for months. Wash your hands, wear a mask, don’t gather.”

The La Crosse Police Department who also partnered with the video, say they will still have extra officers on duty this weekend.

In La Crosse, Hayley Spitler, First News at Nine.

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