PorchFest productions decorating Scranton include a rainbow in Pine Brook, “Harry Potter” in the Hill Section and peace signs in South Side.
Creative, colorful creations have popped up on porches and facades throughout the city for the inaugural Scranton Porch Festival, a weeklong celebration that began Saturday and continues through March 28.
Started by Scranton Fringe Festival co-founder Conor Kelly O’Brien, PorchFest aims to fill some of the void of the postponement of the annual St. Patrick’s Parade from March 13 to Sept. 18 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
O’Brien got the PorchFest idea after learning of something similar in New Orleans, where canceled parades led residents to decorate homes as parade floats.
In the Scranton area, numerous residents, businesses and students have plunged into PorchFest with gusto. O’Brien said about 75 locations were decorated.
“It went very well,” he said of the festival’s first day.
Two dozen students of the Marywood University School of Architecture pitched in to put a groovy peace-and-love theme on the porch of Wayne Evans Realty in South Scranton. Marywood themes were featured at the former Chamber of Commerce building at Mulberry Street and North Washington Avenue, and in the yard of Sister Mary Persico, I.H.M., Ed.D., president of Marywood University, said Marywood University architecture professor Maria MacDonald.
“For me as a professor, it gave me joy to include the students in a positive experience where we could be together in a safe manner and be creative,” MacDonald said. “It felt very joyous and very hopeful.”
West Scranton High School junior Isabella “Izzy” DeFlice, 17, who plans to study theatrical production and large-scale set design in college, brought her artistic talents to a porch in Pine Brook.
DeFlice is building a portfolio for college, so when PorchFest was announced in February, she immediately signed up as an artist.
DeFlice was paired with a homeowner who registered as a host location. They came up with a “Reading Rainbow” theme that combines the “Reading Rainbow” children’s television show, a favorite of DeFlice’s, and March as National Reading Month.
The work includes depictions of real people and fictional characters, including the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on a ladder reaching for a book, Mother Goose, Puff the Magic Dragon, Curious George and a “Where the Wild Things Are” monster.
“It’s really an amazing experience to do,” DeFlice of her participation in PorchFest. “It taught me a lesson in how to devise and think and put things together. It really taught me skills necessary for production and it also gives other local artists a platform.”
MacDonald hopes PorchFest becomes an annual event.
“It’s the first one and I hope it catches on and continues,” MacDonald said. “Keep the momentum going.”
A reporter for more than two decades, Jim Lockwood covers Scranton for The Times-Tribune, which he joined in 2011 after working at newspapers in New Jersey. His 2012 reporting of Scranton’s deepening financial crisis garnered him a statewide first-place award for news beat coverage in the Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association’s Keystone Press Awards. He also won the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association’s Public Notice Journalism Award in multiple years plus national journalism awards from The Public Notice Resource Center, including a first-place win in 2015, and a second-place showing in 2017. Married with three children, Jim lives in Pike County. Contact him at email@example.com or 570-348-9100, x5185.