CLEVELAND — Time to break out the cannolis!
One of Cleveland's most popular events, the Feast of the Assumption in Little Italy, will return this August following a one-year absence caused by COVID-19 concerns. The annual festival is one of Northeast Ohio's cherished gatherings, and remains the only fundraiser for Holy Rosary Catholic Parish in the heart of the neighborhood.
"For more than 120 years, Holy Rosary Parish’s Feast of the Assumption celebration has been a time for families to come together to honor and commemorate their rich cultural heritage," Mayor Frank G. Jackson said in a statement. "This year, we look forward to joining the Little Italy community and our Italian-American residents in celebration of this long-standing tradition."
The festival celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which takes place every Aug. 15 and is a holy day of obligation throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Holy Rosary has long marked the weekend of the occasion with food for Little Italy's famous restaurants, music and performers, and a procession through the streets featuring the church's statue of Mary.
View photos from the 2014 Feast below:
SLIDESHOW | Feast of the Assumption Gallery 1
But when the coronavirus pandemic began exploding in March of 2020, most mass gatherings were either canceled or banned due to concerns of spreading the disease. The Feast was no exception, and Holy Rosary even declined to hold in-person Masses on Aug. 15 due to worries the services would attract big crowds.
Now, more than half of Ohio's adult population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and cases have reached their lowest levels in months. With most of the state's health orders set to expire on June 2 and the CDC saying fully vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear masks, it was only natural that the Feast would be back this summer.
"With gratitude to God’s Providence and for all those who have worked to bring us through the pandemic, which we pray will soon completely end, we remember and pray for all those who have died, lost loved ones or have been affected by COVID-19," Rev. Joseph Previte, pastor of Holy Rosary, wrote. "We look forward to celebrating this solemnity and parish tradition in 2021 with a profound sense of gratitude."
Exact details on the festival have not yet been released, although Indians legend Rocky Colavito is expected to be on hand at some point when a statue in his honor will be erected in Tony Brush Park.
Watch video from the 2019 Feast below: