I am an optimist, always. That light at the end of the tunnel, however dim it may appear to you or me at any given time, is not a new train headed our way. It is the harbinger of good to come.

Live events are becoming that light for most Americans and, especially, most Cincinnatians.

Just twelve months ago, the Cincinnati Reds’ Opening Day parade was canceled and their season had been suspended.

Cincinnati’s W&S Open was moved to New York City so the world’s elite players could quarantine in the same location as the U.S. Tennis Open in hope that they would even be permitted to play.

In our last Caffeinated Connections Brand Builders Breakfast, FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding said the team was devastated that last season was stopped, restarted and mostly played with no fans and a condensed schedule. He indicated that 90% of the team’s revenue is from ticket sales and there were no tickets sold in 2020 … a big challenge for Cincinnati’s newest professional sports darling and among the newest MLS team’s on the continent.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops canceled in-person concerts. The 2020 Cincinnati Music Festival was canceled. Garth Brooks, Cher, Jimmy Buffet and more canceled Cincinnati concerts as well.

When the pandemic descended upon and enveloped us all, live events were among the first things that stopped. Now, while they may be the last to return at full capacity, they are coming back nonetheless. They are signaling that the end of the pandemic draws nearer each day.

In Cincinnati, the Reds had their Opening Day and are now playing their regular season before live crowds, even if a little smaller than usual. FC Cincinnati’s home opener for this season was Sunday, May 16, in front of 30% capacity in the brand new TQL Stadium.

The Symphony and Pops have announced their 2021 schedules. The W&S Open will stay just north of Cincinnati in 2021. Mötley Crüe, Jimmy Buffet, Rod Stewart, Chicago, Luke Bryan, The Black Crowes and many others have announced live concerts in Cincinnati in 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been personal, in some way or another, for virtually every person in the world. Few have been spared contact, whether direct or indirect, with its impact.

The return of live events is one of the most visible and tangible indications that a brighter future lies ahead. Stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel.