US Stamps

First-day ceremony landscape changes for 2020

Apr 17, 2020, 8 AM
Screen capture from the United States Postal Service’s first-day ceremony video feed for the Arnold Palmer stamp issued March 5.

Philatelic Foreword by Jay Bigalke

I like to attend first-day ceremonies. It’s as simple as that. I was unable to attend any of the events held for stamps issued by the United States Postal Service early this year, and I wish I had.

Fast forward to mid-April and holding a traditional first-day ceremony with a large crowd during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is just not possible.

The Postal Service is continuing to issue stamps according to its schedule, but the ceremonies have either been canceled or have been changed to dedication events that hopefully will take place in the near future.

A couple of years ago, the Postal Service began streaming the ceremonies live on its Facebook page. This was a great move for the USPS because it allowed more people to view the events.

The last first-day ceremony to take place this year was for the Arnold Palmer stamp on March 5, held during the Arnold Palmer Invitational. This was basically a media-only ceremony that was streamed live on Facebook. People could attend, but they had to purchase a ticket for the golf invitational.

When shelter-in-place orders are lifted, it will be interesting to see how things change for first-day events. Could some of them be prerecorded remarks streamed online? Could events temporarily be restricted to media only with social distancing restrictions in place for those at the event? Could they even be interactive online meetings?

These stamp events regularly provide the Postal Service with a positive news story, so they aren’t just something for stamp collectors. Using technology could help promote a positive message for the Postal Service and celebrate the United States’ great history, culture and more.

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