PUEBLO — Pueblo County hosted the annual Pueblo County Courthouse Lighting on Tuesday at 5:00 pm, with fireworks at 7:00 pm.
This year's light ceremony "will honor Pueblo's Healthcare Employees - Frontline Employees - Essential Workers with a fireworks show coordinated to music and a beautiful Courthouse Christmas tree decorated with thousand of LED lights" according to the event's website.
On a Facebook post from October 1 (below) promoting the event, comments flooded in from community members calling the event "ironic" as many healthcare workers recently lost their jobs when choosing not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
One group, Pueblo Stands Up, held a "rally" during the lighting ceremony. Protesters marched around the courthouse, holding signs opposing vaccine mandates.
One organizer of the rally told News 5 it is a chance to advocate for healthcare workers who lost their jobs as a result of the vaccine mandate, and who want their local government officials to step in and help them.
"When they announced that they were having a ceremony to honor all healthcare workers, essential and personnel, it really was a slap in the face to those who have been let go and fired," said Chelsea Walls, the Founder of Pueblo Stands Up.
Walls lost her job at Parkview Medical Center where she worked as a nurse in the ICU through most of the pandemic, until her daughter was born in October. She says she does not want to get the vaccine while she is breastfeeding, and the vaccine goes against her religious beliefs.
"I know that they are county and they are against a lot of these mandates as they say, but they do have the power to take an official stand against and opposing these mandates," said Walls.
Pueblo County is not requiring their employees be vaccinated and does not have a mask mandate implemented at the courthouse.
The County did not institute the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, or any other positions throughout the county.
The County refused to comment on the rally.