Cherry Festival Fundraising Drive Underway as Festival Returns
After two years as a drive-thru-only event, the Fireman's Cherry Festival returns to North East in two weeks, and Rescue Chief Jack Diorazio is counting down the days.
"I can't wait to see the people," said the Crescent Hose Fireman. "Can't wait to have the rides back, can't wait to have all the fun and the games and the food. I can't wait."
As the festival approaches, firefighters are going door to door, raising money for the event.
They've hosted that campaign for years, but as inflation rates soar, driving around town in firetrucks became incredibly expensive.
"With gas over six dollars a gallon for diesel these days, almost everything we have runs on diesel," Diorazio said. "The tires are real; the trucks are real, the diesel is very real. These are very real costs that we have to endure to go out and raise money to operate the department."
With costs up, and with Cherry Festival revenue down 20% the last two years, the departments need help from the community, and they're getting it.
"I'll support them no matter what," said Amber Belson-Hamman. "If I call, I want somebody to show up. I'll support them. You can't put a price on a life or an emergency situation."
But you can put a price on running a fire department and North East residents know they're lucky to have two.
“We need both companies in this town to protect this town," said Sam Rizzo. "And whether it’s a small donation or a large donation, every little bit helps.”
So as the fundraising drive winds down, festival preparations ramp up, and while the departments hope to make up lost revenue, the people of North East have their eyes set on something a little different.
"“I’m going to get my Greek burger. I’m going to get some cotton candy. I’m going to play my bingo, get some popcorn," Belson-Hamman said. "It’s just what you do. It’s a huge part of North East, and it’s finally back, and I’m so excited.“