Update 12/28: Visit Philadelphia donated $32,000 to keep Independence Hall and Liberty Bell Center open for three days starting Friday with National Park Service rangers onsite to provide interpretation. Other local attractions that remain open through the holiday weekend and beyond include, Betsy Ross House, Independence Visitor Center and Museum of the American Revolution.

As President Donald Trump and Congress debate whether to include millions of dollars for a border wall in a spending bill to reopen government, event professionals are left wondering how a partial shutdown will affect their plans. Although this is the third shutdown this year, many predict it could extend into 2019 and no one is sure exactly what unintended consequences could affect daily life. Most meetings industry experts point to travel and parks as areas to watch as 800,000 federal workers are affected.

Open Skies

Most planes and trains are running as the more than 55,000 Transportation Security Administration employees are considered essential and required to work without pay until a spending bill is in place.

Customs and Border Patrol are also open and processing paperwork for incoming international travelers. The U.S. State Department issued a notice on Dec. 22 saying, “At this time scheduled passport and visa services in the United States and at our U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas will continue during the lapse in appropriation as the situation permits.”

You might want to be extra nice to these workers.

Park Access

One agency that told workers to stay home was U.S. National Park Service. The agency released a statement saying that during the federal government shutdown, some national parks may remain accessible to visitors, but some are closed completely and there will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services, such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities or road maintenance.

You can find more information about contingency plans at www.doi.gov/shutdown.

Parks operated independently of the government are still open, according to Joanne Diane Tan, corporate director of sales for Basecamp Hospitality (formerly The California Park). The privately owned park and event management company operates numerous properties in California, including Angel Island State Park in San Francisco, Big Basin State Park in Santa Cruz, Camanche Recreation Company in Ione, Clair Tappaan Lodge in Norden and Lake Chabot in Castro Valley. Tan reported that Katherine Landing at lake Mohave marina in Bullhead City, Arizona, is without ranger service, but Basecamp staff manage the marina, so events should not be compromised. “We are set up to be self-sustainable concessioners,” she explained.


One sign that the impasse has hit a nerve is that a Washington, D.C., bar is serving $5 Shutdown Cocktails with names such as Border Wall Banger for government employees.  Also, a #shutdown hashtag is trending with thousands of posts offering commentary, pleas for sanity and some pretty funny cat-fighting videos.