CLEVELAND — One of Northeast Ohio's most-storied traditions will not happen this year.
The city of Cleveland and Holy Rosary Parish jointly announced Friday that this year's Feast of the Assumption street festival, scheduled for Aug. 15, has been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Officials say the decision was necessary to protect the safety of workers and residents, as social distancing guidelines are expected to remain in place for some time.
Mayor Frank G. Jackson, Ward 6 Councilman Blaine Griffin, and Holy Rosary pastor Fr. Joseph Previte said, in part:
"The safety recommendations from the state of Ohio for safe distancing do not allow us to hold large gatherings in the confined space in which we typically hold the Feast and ensure public health and safety...We appreciate and thank all those who have celebrated with us over these 121 years and look forward to continuing this celebration and tradition in 2021."
A holy day of obligation throughout much of the Roman Catholic Church (including the entire United States), the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated each year on Aug. 15 to mark when, according to tradition, the Mother of Jesus Christ "was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." Catholics across the country are required to attend Mass (unless the date falls on a Saturday or Monday, in which case they only attend Sunday), and in Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood the occasion is celebrated by a procession through the streets as well as plenty of great food and entertainment provided by the area's many businesses.
Previte says Holy Rosary will still hold its Mass as scheduled on Aug. 15 (a Saturday this year), but a decision has not yet been finalized regarding the procession. While such a religious gathering cannot be prohibited even during Ohio's COVID-19 shutdown, he pastor says it will only take place after all safety and health guidelines are considered.
The Feast is just the latest Cleveland staple to be either canceled or postponed due to the pandemic, with the city itself having been severely restricted since mid-March. More than 1,800 city residents have contracted the virus, and 75 of those people have died.