Scranton PorchFest shares map of 78 homes and businesses participating from March 20-28
The annual St. Patrick’s Parade has moved from March to September due to COVID-19, so the theatrical organizers behind the Scranton Fringe Festival started PorchFest to encourage locals to transform their homes and storefronts into “floats” like New Orleans residents did in lieu of their Mardi Gras parade.
“I have been directly inspired by the incredible porch floats and house floats coming out of New Orleans and their annual celebration of Mardi Gras,” Scranton Fringe co-founder and executive director Conor Kelly O’Brien said during a Facebook Live stream that answered questions about the new event.
“It is very much putting the power of this creativity into the hands of people – the artists, the homeowners, the businesses, and you, the residents and people who live in this beautiful, beautiful community.”
Available now on scrantonporchfest.com and embedded below, the map features color-coded sections for downtown, the Hill Section, Green Ridge and Pinebrook, West Scranton, South Scranton and East Mountain, North Scranton, and outside the city. There is no set theme for the decorations, so the 78 listed locations include everything from Harry Potter to Irish heritage, the Wizard of Oz, Reading Rainbow, spring flowers, Americana, peace and love, and the United Nations.
Pop-up events like live music are also scattered throughout the city. The Bog (341 Adams Ave., Scranton), for example, is holding a bake sale on March 20 as DJ Conor McGuigan spins records outdoors from 1 p.m.-4 p.m., with proceeds benefiting the Scranton Fringe Festival.
Following a year that was particularly difficult for the arts and live entertainment, organizers encouraged people to hire local artists to help them decorate or stage something special at their location.
“The big, big cornerstone of this work is supporting artists and creative workers in our region in a major way because of this awful pandemic,” O’Brien emphasized.
“Not only are we hoping to help them with getting paid work, we’re hoping to use this as a platform to turn the spotlight and remind people, ‘Look at the vibrancy of this creativity. Look how much it does for our region. Look how much it sends people and money to the local businesses.’ We need to start supporting our local and regional artists. We have got to start viewing them as a vital part of our element and not just that thing that we call upon when we need help, when that small business needs help.”
Just last month, the inaugural Scranton Ice Festival proved that socially distanced events can work to boost businesses and provide a safe outlet for performers to entertain crowds that have been cooped up for months. The Fringe Fest also guided small groups of masked patrons through downtown for its Fringe Under Glass shows last September. That program is set to return later this year.
This week-long festival hopes to unite all these sections to celebrate the diverse cultural history of the city and give people something to smile about in these difficult times.
PorchFest will be documented with photos and videos, and anyone can support the effort with sponsorships and donations through the Scranton Area Community Foundation.
“This is a celebration of community. We are trying to really promote not only local businesses but possibly even more so creatives and artists who really need the support – creative businesses that you can hire and commission,” O’Brien said.
“This is your festival, Scranton. We’re just here to centralize it, promote it, and set standards … to keep everybody safe.”