TOLEDO, Ohio — As new rides and attractions are planned for the 2021 Cedar Point season, park officials are also excited about finally getting to celebrate the park’s 150th anniversary after the pandemic put a hold on events originally planned for last summer.
“I think everyone gets a pass for not doing things last year,” said Tony Clark, Cedar Point’s communications director.
The park officially opened Friday with the Frontier Festival, which features live music, entertainment, games, merchandise, and food and drink inspired by a figurative stockpile of cherries. Officials said a wide selection of items from local artisans and crafters will also be available, as well as themed photo spots.
After a limited season last year because of the coronavirus, Mr. Clark said officials and, he believes, the public is ready for a park season that’s much closer to normal.
“We’re excited,” he said. “This is a very, very, very happy weekend…. Our entire mission is to make people happy and we get to do that again.”
One of Cedar Point’s partners is Prayers From Maria, a foundation dedicated to raising money for research and treatment for childhood brain tumors known as gliomas. Megan McNamara, co-founder of the organization, started the foundation in memory of her daughter, Maria, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in kindergarten and died a year later.
The foundation uses sunflower imagery and plants sunflower fields in Avon and Cedar Point each year. Last year, despite the pandemic, the planting still took place, McNamara said, and the fields became places where people could safely gather outside of their homes.
“[Maria] kind of identified with the sunflower,” McNamara said. “The sunflower, in the language of flowers, is the flower of hope.”
Cedar Point carries the Prayers for Maria message throughout the park, and there are many opportunities for visitors to donate money to the foundation.
“They just saw a perfect fit with what they do and what we do,” McNamara said about the foundation’s partnership with Cedar Point.
Research funding for childhood cancer is not where it should be, McNamara said. Through the foundation, she hopes to change that so more children can get effective treatment and live full lives.
“We’re trying to right that wrong,” she said.
Carrie Boldman started as Cedar Point’s vice president and general manager just five weeks ago and is excited for the season to get started.
“It’s been great — really busy, but really fun,” she said.
And while Gov. Mike DeWine just recently announced the removal of all pandemic health orders on June 2, Cedar Point officials will consult not only state and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, but also its own team of medical experts to guide protocols for park guests and staff.
If people are outdoors and maintaining social distance, Ms. Boldman said, they don’t need to wear masks. Contactless payment is encouraged, but full capacity will be allowed. Cedar Point Shores will open May 28 after being closed all of last year.
“A year makes a big difference,” she said, and officials will continue tracking coronavirus-related information as the season progresses.
The 150th-anniversary celebration that kicks off June 26 will include a parade and a nighttime spectacular. A new boat ride, Snake River Expedition, also will open this year.
“When Cedar Point opens, it’s always a milestone,” Ms. Boldman said. “I think in some ways, it signifies the start of summer.”