Public safety top priority as PVDFest returns for first time since 2019

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Providence’s iconic outdoor festival is back.

PVDFest made its return for the first time since 2019. With thousands of people expected to flood the capital City’s streets, public safety is a concern for many.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza kicked off PVDFest weekend Friday afternoon.

Elorza was joined by several leaders, including City Council President John Igliozzi and Culture and Tourism Director Lizzie Araujo Haller, at Burnside Park.

There, EhShawnee, a Dominican-American singer, South Providence native, and Juanita Sanchez graduate, Shawnee Tavares gave a preview performance before her PVDFest show on Sunday.

“This festival has created a great legacy of music, performance and artistry that I hope will live on indefinitely — truly showcasing why we are the Creative Capital. I look forward to celebrating the arts and helping to spread some much-needed joy this weekend,” said Elorza.

“After two years in with the pandemic,” Tavares said, “I think this is the time to celebrate, and hug each other.”

Public safety officials assured the public that their safety will be top priority.

“The vibrancy is back in the city with PVDFest this weekend, but with that comes a lot of planning behind the scenes,” Providence Police Colonel Hugh Clements told ABC6.

The Colonel said the Providence Department plans to add extra patrols, specifically downtown.

Providence Police plan on using local and federal partners, as tensions across the nation continue to grow.

Also top of mind for law enforcement, a shots fired incident from 2019 when a 24-year-old man fired shots into the air, while surrounded by nearly 70,000 people. He was later arrested and charged. 

Clements said PVDFest will also end earlier than it has in the past, in order to deter the nightlife and club scene from trickling into the festival.

“The overlap with the nightclub scene can be problematic, and we know that,” he said.

The festival runs from Friday through Sunday.

PVDFest was last held back in 2019.

Categories: News, Regional News, Rhode Island