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High School kids help keep The Spirit of Peoria afloat during COVID-19

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PEORIA (HOI) - Small business owners face so many tough choices now. Among them whether they're assuming too much risk to remain active.

For a high-profile institution, The Spirit of Peoria, once-canceled high school dances like a prom became a reality once again. Four of them have been scheduled on the boat this month alone.

The Spirit of Peoria was facing problems after the COVID-19 pandemic limited its business.

Captain and owner Alex Grieves said some employees had to go on unemployment after the money from the Paycheck Protection Plan ran out. 

Sightseeing tours were still available, but the boat was running on a shortened staff. Then his son, a senior at Metamora High, thought of a plan to hold prom on the boat.

"This was kind of a saving grace. It helped the spirit of Peoria and I think the kids sure had a great time as well," Grieves said.

The event was limited to 100 seniors, had outside and inside socially distant seating, and a socially distant buffet. Grieves said he required all staff to wear masks, but passengers were given the option to wear them. 

Though the prom was a success, Grieves said he's looking for more bookings, with a limit of 50 people per deck.

"Well, I was hoping [the COVID-19 pandemic] would kind of be behind us a little bit more than it is, but we're just having to deal with it right now," Grieves said. 

"The boat was licensed for almost 500 passengers at one time, so we're reducing way down below 50 percent just to make sure we have plenty of space for everybody."

Howard Packowitz

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