HAZLETON — An event which draws thousands of people into Hazleton may end next year.
Officials blame the economy and a new city ordinance that could bring an end of the festival.
Funfest has been an annual event for 34 years. Five blocks of downtown Hazleton are shut to make room for the family fun event. It draws thousands of people. It funnels extra customers to businesses and non profits.
Assistant McAdoo Fire Chief, Robert Leshko said Funfest is the agency`s biggest fund raiser.
“We set up multiple stands we have multiple products and without it, it would have us take a good look at what we’re doing,” said Leshko.
Funfest officials said this may be the last year for the event. City council has drawn up a proposal which could have Funfest officials shelling out hundreds for permits and paying for some city services, like police.
Judiann McGrogan, the executive director of Funfest said the city’s move caught her by surprise.
“To now say that we’re going to have to pay for their hourly wages for every hour they spend here in downtown Hazleton is going to literally bankrupt Funfest,” said McGrogan.
Mayor Joseph Yannuzzi said officials have no choice. He’s predicting a $1 million deficit for Hazleton by year’s end.
“$16,000 to 20,000 to do Funfest, so we gave it a hard look and I thought it was unfair to do it this year so we’re going to start in 2013 so they have plenty of time to prepare for it,” said Yannuzzi.
Mayor Yannuzzi predicts city council will pass the ordinance later this month. Funfest officials said they will be at the meeting there asking city council members to change their minds.