HAZLETON — An event that brings about 100,000 people to Hazleton every year is back this weekend. Funfest gets underway Saturday. Last year, Funfest organizers said they might not be able to afford another one.
It’s the only parade the city of Hazleton hosts each year, the only event that brings an estimated 100,000 people downtown. Funfest went on as scheduled last year, but some were worried it was on its way out.
“Funfest is a big expense to the city with police department, overtime, and the highway department,” said Mayor Joe Yannuzzi.
To offset costs, the city proposed an ordinance last year that would have required Funfest to pay permit fees. But that idea caused an uproar from the Funfest committee.
“We were just one of several organizations that spoke out and talked about how this would have a very negative impact on funfest,” said Funfest executive director Judianna McGrogan.
Funfest went on, the ordinance was tabled, and never brought up again. Funfest is back this weekend with one cost-cutting measure. Funfest will end at 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday nights instead of at 9 p.m.
Rocco Colangelo is the president of the Hazleton Quarterback Club, one of the dozens of nonprofits that holds fundraisers at Funfest.
“We do a number of fundraisers throughout the year. We go all 12 months. But Funfest is definitely one of our big fundraisers, and we appreciate the opportunity to be downtown,” said Colangelo.
Not only is Funfest returning this year, but with the construction on Broad Street almost complete, officials say this might be the best Funfest yet.
“I think most of it’s going to be on street level. If they do that, it’ll be an entirely different event,” said Mayor Yannuzzi.
Funfest starts in downtown Hazleton Saturday morning and continues through Sunday.