‘Virtual’ Autumnfest headlined by parade honoring essential workers, first responders

Blackstone Valley
12 Salutes Local Veterans on WPRI.com

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Popular traditions are having to be scaled down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic —- including Woonsocket’s annual Autumnfest.

There was no weekend carnival, but a parade of vehicles wound through the city Monday morning to salute first responders and health care workers on the forefront of the battle against the coronavirus, all of whom were dubbed honorary grand marshals of this year’s event.

The Autumnfest weekend has attracted thousands of visitors to World War II Veterans Memorial Park on Columbus Day weekend since 1977, and the committee wanted to keep a few things going in this unusual year, according to festival general chairman Garrett Mancieri.

“Although we haven’t had large crowds together, the committee still wanted to have a vehicle parade. We chose to honor the first responders and health care workers who are the true heroes of 2020,” Mancieri said Monday.

The festival organizers also held a virtual 5K run to continue to raise operating funds, and souvenirs are being sold on the festival’s website — including the yearly buttons where a purchase enters to win a cash prize. This year’s numbered buttons will also be used next year for a special prize, the festival said on Facebook.

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