Carnival atmosphere, new community group and catering area combined with warm weather and no rain were part of this year’s summer festival in Plum.
The annual seasonal celebration returned to Larry Mills Park June 24-26 after being canceled due to the pandemic last year.
The patrons responded in the same way with at least 3,000 visitors to the recreation area on Fontana Drive.
Kenley Scanga, 4, from Plum was among the many kids who played games and went horse riding. She won an award for catching three plastic frogs on one of the stands with the help of her grandmother Mary Wilson from Swissvale.
“It’s a carnival!” said Kenley as she claimed her award.
Kenley’s parents, Louie Scanga and Maria Domino, recently moved to Plum from Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood.
“Nice neighbors, love the quiet; and that’s really nice, ”said Scanga.
The organizers created a new layout that C&L Shows of Mt. Pleasantly more space for their rides and games, while local community groups and grocery vendors had their booths on a different side of the park.
Non-food providers like insurance agencies and home improvement companies weren’t part of the layout to help with social distancing.
There were also no live bands or other performances.
“It has given us a little more space up here so that we can work,” said event coordinator Mona Costanza. “The stage takes up a huge area and we didn’t want people to gather around the stage this year.
“This is all something we’ll look at at our final meeting. We could build on that. The layout is perfect. I think you will see this in the next year. “
Summer festival planning usually starts in January. The organizers coordinated everything in about a month after state officials lifted some Covid restrictions.
“When we knew the outdoor restrictions were being lifted and we could have a bigger crowd, we just started and did it,” said Costanza. “We have a great team to work with. We just come together and know how to make it happen. Three days (of) perfect weather. I’ve never been to a festival that had perfect weather for three days. “
Only limited parking spaces were available at the event. Many guests parked at Amplify Church along Saltsburg Road. Organizers had to add a third full size school bus from the Plum School District to take guests to and from the church.
AJ Robinson, 7, of McKeesport, tested his strength at one of the Carnival games. He brandished a mighty hammer to ring a bell and win a toy gun. AJ said he loved everything about the festival.
His father, Quincy Robinson, said it was her first time at Summerfest and her family had a great time.
“We’re enjoying it,” said Robinson. “I was fed up with sitting or sitting around the house. It’s great to come out and the kids are having fun. “
Major Harry Schlegel recalled the roots of the festival when it was called Community Days years ago.
“We used to have three fire engines and saw a few groceries – that’s it,” said Schlegel. “It’s grown up now. I can’t say enough about the staff to the public works. These guys made it possible. “
He praised Costanza, other administrators and volunteers.
“The community does that,” said the mayor. “Enter the people.”
Grocery sellers included Penn Hills’ Pappy’s Kettle Corn, Strada Italian Street Food, Pittsburgh Smokehouse, and ByGone Wines.
Rain Dropz, which offered bubble tea and lemonade, was run by Jennifer Lynn Pusateri and her daughter Kali.
“I never knew it was a thing until my mother told me about it,” Kali said. “It’s very family friendly and everyone seems to be having a good time. My kids love it. There are things for your toddler to do. It is nice.”
Her son Dakota Delgado, 2, pushed an empty stroller around and performed various dance moves.
“He’ll do this all night,” said Kali Pusateri. “I can trust that my son will walk 3 meters in front of me and still see him and trust that nobody will do anything. If anything, interact with him. Almost all of them are made of plum. I know pretty much everyone. “
Other celebrations included a graduation ceremony for the Junior Fire Academy of the Holiday Park Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Chief Jim Sims and other fire fighters presented the 27 cadets with their various certificates and praised their dedication and hard work during the week-long camp.
The Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office had a search demonstration with one of his bloodhounds, and state police flew in in one of his helicopters.
A Zambelli fireworks closed the festival on Saturday evening.
Michael DiVittorio is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter.