Earlier this month, Mayor Martin Walsh decided to cancel all city-permitted parades and festivals taking place outdoors through Labor Day. The move was aimed at curbing the gathering of large crowds and keep up social distancing throughout the summer months amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement forced the Eastie Pride Day committee to make the tough decision to pull the plug on the late August festival that draws thousands to Piers Park for the daylong family friendly celebration. This is the first time the event has been canceled in its 32-year history.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the cancellation of Eastie Pride Day 2020,” said the Committee in a statement Friday. “This decision was made in compliance with the City of Boston’s recent order regarding public events. Eastie Pride Day is a summer tradition for many families. For over 30 years we have celebrated Eastie’s diverse culture, rich history, and community pride. During these times of uncertainty, we hope you continue to foster that Eastie pride we all share, uplift one another, and support our beloved community. We wish you good health, and encourage all to continue to follow public health guidelines. We look forward to celebrating with you next year.”
Eastie Pride Day was founded in 1988 by former Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina as a summer block party and community celebration to bring Eastie residents closer together.
So, on a hot summer night in 1988 at East Boston Memorial Stadium the first Eastie Pride Day was held. However, LaMattina admits he thought it would only be a one-time event.
“When we planned the first Eastie Pride Day we thought that would be it,” said LaMattina. “Have everyone come down, show off their Eastie Pride and it would be over.”
But the success of the very first East Pride Day was all LaMattina and longtime organizers like Larry and Carol Smith and the late Anthony Albano needed to keep it going.
So for more than 30 years LaMattina, was the key organizer, and now a younger generation of community leaders like his daughter Liana LaMattina and Rep. Adrian Madaro, have been keeping the event going, an event that he holds very dear to his heart.
Although LaMattina is disappointed in this year’s cancellation, he is happy the Committee is doing their part to help control the spread of COVID-19. “We’ve had years with rain and thunderstorms. Years where we had to move the festival inside. There were years that we had to cut Eastie Pride Day short due to severe weather. But, we always had Eastie Pride Day,” he said. “With that said we can’t be too careful in these crazy times and must do our part as a community to ensure everyone stays safe and healthy until we can find an end to this pandemic.”