Looking ahead to 2021

Looking ahead to 2021

The 2020 Autumnfest Vehicle Parade leaves the Woonsocket Middle School parking lot to begin the parade route on Monday morning. Garrett Mancieri said this was officially the longest Autumnfest parade route ever, hitting every neighborhood “to thank and honor essential workers and first responders who are our real heroes of 2020. See you all again in 2021!” (Breeze photo by Robert Emerson)
Autumnfest Steering Committee says event will be back next year

WOONSOCKET – The Autumnfest Steering Committee is calling it “the year that didn’t happen.”

On Monday, a handful of residents came out to see a parade of vehicles decked out in Autumnfest orange make their way around the city – the only indication that it was Columbus Day morning, the day when the city’s biggest annual event normally takes over the streets from East Woonsocket to downtown.

Though Autumnfest, like most large events, was canceled due to restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic, the Steering Committee still got into the spirit with a pared-down version of the annual parade. The “rolling parade,” as they called it, reminded residents that though World War II Veterans Memorial Park might remain empty, the committee was still working behind the scenes to keep the Autumnfest spirit alive.

“This is the first time that we ever did a rolling parade, as we called it, so it was certainly something new,” said Steering Committee General Chairman Garrett Mancieri. “I just think it was a fun way to just keep the spirit alive and the tradition going. It certainly was a unique experience for the committee to go throughout the entire city of Woonsocket.”

The parade honored this year’s grand marshals, essential workers and first responders, with a visit to Landmark Medical Center among other locations. Mancieri said it was a fun feature of this year’s event that the parade traveled throughout the city instead of the traditional parade route down Diamond Hill Road.

With Autumnfest 2020 in the books, the committee is now looking forward to planning 2021, which Mancieri said will hopefully be back to normal.

“We fully anticipate everything to be back as scheduled, all the different activities,” he said. “We’ll probably be looking to do even more activities since people have been missing it this year.”

Those activities will include an extra raffle for individuals who bought 2020 buttons. The committee raised about $3,000 in button sales and sponsorships this year, with the winners of the annual button raffle announced this week. It’s a small amount compared with their usual fundraising, but enough to get a head start on fundraising for next year.

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In November, the committee will host a reorganizational meeting to elect their officers for next year. In December, they’ll accept applications for new members interested in joining the committee, and in January and February, get down to the business of planning next year’s event. Mancieri said they should have a sense by March what types of restrictions will still be in place during next year’s event.

Mancieri said residents can visit the Autumnfest website for a countdown to next year’s event.