Coping with the Heat at the Novena

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SCRANTON — There’s a lot to consider when one of the hottest weeks of the year falls during a nine-day outdoor festival that draws thousands of people to Scranton.

Thousands of people will visit St. Ann’s Basilica in west Scranton this week for the festival honoring St. Ann, the grandmother of Jesus.

Most of the services this week are held outside, and keeping everyone cool this week is a team effort.

Every July in west Scranton there are some things that never change.

“Hot weather is nothing new at St. Ann’s Novena in Scranton.”

This 93rd Solemn Novena to St. Ann is no different. It was already more than 90 degrees during the noon Mass held outside the basilica on Wednesday.

The church is prepared for this traditional novena weather. EMT’s and paramedics are on hand each day just in case.

“Every year around novena time, with the novena comes the heat, every single year, so we make sure we prepare for the novena every year. Not just for the thousands of people that are going to come through here, but also, we prepare for the heat. We bring extra coolers with water,” said Bruce Beauvais, with Pennsylvania Ambulance.

Many of the people visiting the novena have been coming since childhood, so they also know the drill.

“Either hot or thunderstorms, it’s one or the other, nothing in between,” said Sandy O’Connor of Jessup.

Regular novena attendees have a system down and supplies ready to make sure that they beat the heat.

“I brought my lovely chair that I have that I bought, with the awning, and just a bottle of water. We’re good. I love the heat,” said O’Connor.

O’Connor’s new puppy Luna didn’t love the heat as much, but she was staying hydrated.

“Oh yeah, she just drank the whole bottle. She loves her water.”

Other Catholics say it’s important to take breaks. Water bottles were among the best sellers at the novena’s food stand.

“Stay cool. Sometimes you go inside where the air conditioning is which is wonderful. Of course, we’re having lunch here, so underneath the tent is always great,” said Katie Foy of Justus.

EMT’s told us that so far, there haven’t been any medical issues due to the heat this week. But the heat is set to continue this week. The nine-day festival wraps up on July 26.

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