Rich Howells

La Festa Italiana in Scranton canceled due to coronavirus concerns

La Festa Italiana in Scranton canceled due to coronavirus concerns
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First it was the Scranton St. Patrick’s Parade – then the coronavirus came for the Italian Festival.

This morning, Lackawanna County and festival organizers announced that La Festa Italiana, scheduled for Sept. 4-7 on Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton, has been canceled.

The massively popular Labor Day weekend event typically brings more than 80 food vendors to the square, along with live music on several stages.

The joint statement read:

La Festa Italiana has been a longstanding and very popular tradition in our community, attracting over 100,000 attendees annually since it was initiated in 1976. But unfortunately, like other area events, it too has been affected by the pandemic.

The Lackawanna County Commissioners and the LaFesta Committee jointly announced that “This year’s celebration has been cancelled. We are concerned with the health and well-being of our residents, the many visitors from outside the region, vendors, entertainers, volunteers, workers, and public safety personnel who come together to make this large-scale event happen so successfully. We are committed to everyone’s safety and are focused on preventative measures to stop the spread of this virus. We hope to celebrate with everyone again in 2021.”

La Festa Italiana released its own statement soon after, announcing next year’s dates:

After careful consideration regarding the health and safety of everyone – our longtime vendors, entertainers, devoted volunteers, and loyal patrons – we have made the difficult decision to announce the cancellation of this year’s La Festa Italiana scheduled for September 4-7, 2020.

As one of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s most cherished traditions, we thank everyone who has supported La Festa over the last 44 years. We look forward to bringing you the best ever festival to celebrate our 45th anniversary Labor Day Weekend 2021 as a showcase celebration of culture, cuisine, and music.

So mark your calendars for September 3-6, 2021!

State al sicuro e bene!
(Stay safe and be well)

This news leaves little hope that Scranton’s other major event, the 59th annual St. Patrick’s Parade, will be rescheduled this year. Originally set for March 14, the parade was postponed due to COVID-19.

The Scranton St. Patrick’s Parade Association was planning to move forward with the event as scheduled but soon reversed that decision as other St. Patrick’s Day parades around the world were canceled and public health concerns mounted.

Scranton boasts that it has the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country (for cities with a population over 50,000), with over 12,000 participants and about 100,000 spectators annually. Local bars are usually packed with thousands of partiers who start early early in the morning and drink long into the night.

The March 11 statement by the Scranton St. Patrick’s Parade Association read:

In light of new developments with the spread of the COVID-19 virus here on the East Coast and mindful of recent parade cancellations in Philadelphia, Boston, and Ireland, the Saint Patrick’s Parade Association of Lackawanna County has decided to postpone the 2020 parade in Scranton. As conversations continue with officials from the city of Scranton, all agree that the safety and well-being of our community is of primary concern.

Scranton’s parade is one of the largest in the country and historically draws scores of visitors from far and wide, so we simply want to avoid exposing our community to additional risk at this time. While this decision is disappointing, we are acting with a general concern for the well-being of everyone. In the coming weeks, we pray that the COVID-19 virus will run its course and when we are confident that all is clear, we will enthusiastically plan a new 2020 date for the Saint Patrick’s Parade in downtown Scranton. Stay tuned!

There has not been an update since.