Organizers cite COVID-19 restrictions for scrapping 2021's event.
Fans of the Pony Swim at Chincoteague Island are going to have to make other plans. The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company canceled their annual fundraiser due to the uncertainty regarding COVID-19 restrictions. The event, which would have marked its 96th year, was also canceled back in 2020 for the first time since World War II.
Organizers announced the news on Facebook back in March, explaining "we would not be able to have these events and not knowing when or if restrictions would be lifted in time to open."
The Pony Swim was scheduled for Wednesday, July 28.
The Chincoteague Island Pony Swim is a fundraiser for the Volunteer Fire Company and a major tourist attraction on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Thousands of visitors attend each year to partake in carnival rides, live foal auctions, and of course watch the traditional Pony Swim, where the horses traverse the channel between Assateague Island and Chincoteague Island. Proceeds from the auctions support charitable causes, as well as veterinary care for the horses on the island. At least 40,000 to 50,000 people show up on average.
According to the post, some of the festivities will forge ahead virtually, including the foal auction and commemorative T-shirt sales. Additionally, visitors who purchased raffle tickets for front row seats to the swim will have them honored at next year's event. The tickets benefitted the creation of Brianna Park, an outdoor project that pays tribute to Brianna Merritt, who died of cancer in 2019.
Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company President Hunter Leonard laments the "unimaginable losses" produced by the pandemic but remains hopeful for a comeback in 2022. "We thank you, our supporters who have stood by our side for so many years for all your encouraging words and donations."
Were you going to attend the annual Pony Swim this year? Let us know in the comments what's your favorite tradition is.