SCRANTON, Pa. — A Labor Day Weekend tradition in Scranton has been canceled because of the coronavirus.
Lackawanna County officials announced Tuesday morning that La Festa Italiana has been called off for 2020 because of concerns related to the pandemic.
The popular event draws thousands of people to downtown Scranton for ethnic foods, music, crafts, and other events.
Chris DiMattio, the president of the festival committee, said it was a mutual agreement with county officials to call off the tradition this year.
People we spoke to this year say Labor Day Weekend will be sad this year, but everyone who's involved in the festival agrees it's more than just a food festival. It's an event where you catch up with old friends, celebrate Italian culture, and give back to the community.
"La Festa's like another part of life. My children are involved, my whole family is involved. Yeah, there will probably be a couple of tears coming down the eye Labor Day Weekend," said DiMattio.
Eugene Padula owns Carmella's in Scranton. He's been serving up classic Italian dishes and pastries at La Festa for more than three decades. He says last year was one of the best years yet.
"It's a big disappointment but safety is definitely first at something like this. No one knew how long this was going to last," Padula said.
Joe Macciocco owns Villa Maria Restaurant, also in Scranton. He's been a vendor at the festival since its inception back in 1976. He usually starts preparing now.
"It's not only a venue that you go and make money at. It's a venue where you see people and you get to see them once a year," said Macciocco.
Since the festival usually benefits food pantries in the area, DiMattio says the committee will be working with vendors to find a way to still help those organizations.
Organizers said they hope to return to Courthouse Square in Scranton in 2021.
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