Local tent rental companies scrambling to keep up with intense demand for new outdoor Thanksgiving ‘tradition’

VIDEO: Some families plan to move Thanksgiving outdoors into tents

Until the most non-traditional year ever, only deployed troops could count on having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in a tent.

But since the pandemic has made tent dining outdoors the new tradition, local companies renting and selling tents report demand is beyond anything they’ve experienced--especially in late Fall--which is typically a slower time in the industry.

“We are very busy,” said Aravia McCormick with Alexander Party Rentals in Kent. “We’ve sent out every crewmember and truck we have, and our phones have been ringing nonstop.”

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McCormick said a lot of families are shopping for tents of every size, figuring having dinner or a celebration in a ventilated tent outside is a lot safer than gathering in stagnant air inside.

“Backyards, patios, parking lots, anywhere outdoors you can fit a tent,” she said. “It’s been amazing for us.”

The CDC has stated a typical indoor Thanksgiving gathering can be an amazing spreader of coronavirus.

“You see virus accumulate in a home” said Dr. Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota. “So when you have a Thanksgiving dinner it’s not unusual to see transmission from one person to five, ten, fifteen people in that home.”

McCormick said she’s fielded calls from Alaska to Oregon, and everything changed dramatically when the lockdowns began.

“Within a single day we went from planning weddings, parties, baby showers, graduations, to immediately transitioning to finding business within the medical community asking if they needed tents for testing.”

They did. Calls from clinics, coronavirus testing agencies, restaurants and schools followed. Manufacturers of tents can’t make them fast enough to keep up with the demand for a safer space where the air and people can circulate, and stake down a new twist in an old tradition.

“It’s an option,” McCormick said. “Keeping the walls open, circulation, maintaining social distance, it’s been a great blessing for everybody.”