Columbus Day on Federal Hill different than year’s past; cancelled Monday due to bad weather

Al Fresco dining for Columbus Day weekend closed down Monday due to rain and cold weather.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Al Fresco dining for Columbus Day weekend closed down Monday due to rain and cold weather.

The Columbus Day Weekend celebration is one of the biggest events of the year for businesses on Federal Hill, but due to COVID-19, things were different this year.

Rick Simone with the Federal Hill Association says they were able to accomplish about 60% of what they typically do every year.

“The entertainment was held, no problem, following COVID-19 guidelines, but the rides, the games, the parade had to be taken off this year,” Simone said. “There were no problems with mask wearing or distancing, the entertainment was great.”

Vendors were still able to set up along the street and businesses continued outdoor dining. But, businesses said without the parade and the rides, the atmosphere was different.

“This year was more about safety, so people stayed home,” Salvatore DeSimone with Tony’s Colonial Food said. “No parade or rides, just vendors. It is sad; you don’t see the same happiness as before.”

Rick Simone said the association had to completely re-invent this event that has been running for 25 years. This year’s attendance was about half of last year’s 120,000 people. Most people say it’s better than nothing.

“People’s spirits were good,” Simone said. “If you were here when the entertainment was playing, there were people standing around, still distancing, we had extra tables spread out throughout the avenue and people’s moods were good. The compliments and comebacks of people’s opinions were all positive.

This year, the road closed off starting on Friday instead of Saturday, so most businesses were wiped out by Monday. That, coupled with the rain and cold weather, wasn’t enough to keep it open on Monday.

However, thanks to the “Take It Out” initiative, outdoor dining will continue through October and even the first two weeks of November.

“You’ll see now, they’re out there hanging the lights,” Simone said. “We have lights from the arch to the church, which is about 18 blocks of the avenue.”

All of the changes, in hopes to continue supporting businesses as safely as possible.

©WLNE-TV/ABC6 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island