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First Friday restart collides with showers

Mother Nature didn’t get the notice and her timing was anything but wanted.

This year’s restart of the monthly First Friday street festival, postponed for more than a year due to COVID-19 pandemic, was basically washed out by inclement weather, including heavy rain showers that arrived about 6 p.m., an hour after it was scheduled to kick off.

The rain clouds covered a wide area from New York to Maryland borders.

The menacing large frontal system reached the city as the fun was supposed to start.

Beth Armanda and Shanin Dougherty, co-chairs for the First Friday Committee, said outdoor vendors during this particular First Friday had to be canceled due to the ongoing rain, but to never count First Friday out.

“All of the shops stay open late the first Friday of every month,” Armanda said. “They all host their own vendor or artist. But if it was a 90 percent chance of rain like it was, we decided to call it and not shut the street down.”

She added that many vendors with art had canceled early as the art may have gotten ruined by the rain.

Armanda added that June’s First Friday will be back to normal, with anywhere between 50 to 70 vendors on West Fourth and Pine streets, including arts and crafts, non-profits, food and live music to be seen on Pine Street and out front of the Community Arts Center. Lycoming Arts will also have another art project going on in their building.

The family-oriented event, which is promoted by Lycoming Arts Council and plugged frequently by City Council and Mayor Derek Slaughter, typically has artists selling their homemade product lines, various musicians performing on small stages and on barricaded Pine Street, and plenty of food vendors.

Activities run through 8 p.m.

“It is wonderful to see First Fridays return,” Slaughter said. “It’s great to have people excited to be out and about while patronizing our local business community.”

Restaurants posted signs with specials on sidewalks as the temperature dropped into the 50s.

Ahead of the festival, a local resident reached by the Sun-Gazette said people to shop downtown for Mother’s Day on Sunday and throughout the year.

“I hope people venture out to pick up their last-minute Mother’s Day gifts,” said Sara Kiehl, adding, “Supporting local is so important.”

Street festivals, when the weather cooperates, as it had a week before at First Saturday, bring out scores of people. A recent “Get Outdoors” First Saturday themed event included a rock climbing tower, demonstrations of hiking and nature trails and equipment and bicycling.

Facial masks were encouraged to be worn by organizers by Williamsport Business Association.

Today isn’t expected to bring many blue skies, with showers likely and with a high near 52, according to the National Weather Service in State College.

Mother’s Day also is expected to bring rain, mainly after noon, with a high near 51.

Precipitation of a quarter to a half inch of rain is possible.

Looking ahead, the next First Friday is scheduled for June 2.

Sun-Gazette reporter Mallorie McIlwain contributed to this story.

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