Mairin Petrone has more on the 2021 Pittsburgh Irish Festival, which is set for September.
- Happy St. Patrick's Day. Today we celebrate the Irish culture and all of its music, delicious food and drinks. But the festivities don't have to end tonight. The Irish Festival is making its triumphant return later on this year. Joining me now live over Zoom to talk all about it is the executive director behind the Pittsburgh Irish Festival, Mairin Patrone. Mairin, how exciting is it to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day with the hope of an in-person Irish Festival?
MAIRIN PETRONE: I can't think of anything more exciting than that. We're so happy to be making this announcement this week on St. Patrick's Day that we will return for our 30th-anniversary festival this year.
- So exciting. Can you talk to us about what factors played into the decision for its return this fall?
MAIRIN PETRONE: Yeah, absolutely. So health and safety are our top priority. So we have been consulting with the Allegheny County Health Department. We've been talking with other events throughout the country where we're so fortunate to be well connected with other Irish festivals throughout the country as well as other non-Irish events. And we have done every bit of research we possibly can.
And things seem to be going in the right direction as far as numbers going down, vaccinations going up. And we're thinking that the light at the end of the tunnel has a shamrock in it.
- I like that. Do you have a new slogan for this year's event?
MAIRIN PETRONE: We're going to have two. So the first one is we're celebrating our 30th anniversary. And so if you're familiar with the Claddagh ring, the Claddagh stand for friendship, love, and loyalty. So it's 30 years of friendship, love, and loyalty. And because we're likely looking at a mask requirement in order to make sure everyone is safe from COVID, we're going to say Irish eyes are still smiling. So everybody can still tell someone is smiling when they've got their mask on. So Irish eyes are always smiling, and they will continue to be.
- Got to look at the positive, right?
MAIRIN PETRONE: Yeah, absolutely.
- So last year's event canceled, obviously, because of the pandemic. People were bummed. What can people look forward to this year, or what can you tell people who maybe haven't even gone to an Irish festival in Pittsburgh?
MAIRIN PETRONE: So the very first thing I would say is you don't have to be Irish to come. Everybody's Irish today on St. Patrick's Day. Nobody is Irish in September at the Pittsburgh Irish Festival. I can guarantee you a good time regardless. So that's the first thing I want to say.
The second thing is that Irish music, culture, food, dance-- it's universal. And we continue to provide that every year at the festival. And we're so sad, for the first time in 30 years, not to be able to. But we're going to recreate that in a safe way. And people can expect all of the things they've always loved about the festival, but socially distanced this year. So we're going to continue to bring those things back that people truly love.
- Well, Mairin, thank you. We don't have much longer to wait-- September 10 through 12. It's outdoors, The Lots of Sandcastle. We appreciate you for your time tonight, and happy St. Patrick's Day. Erin go Bragh.
MAIRIN PETRONE: Yeah, [NON-ENGLISH]. Cheers.
- Yeah, cheers. Have a good night.