The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce has packed a whole lot of activities and entertainment into two city blocks.
On Friday, May 7, and Saturday, May 8, it will shut down the 200 and 300 blocks of Penn Avenue for the inaugural Chamber Community Block Party, an event full of music, activities, food, shopping and more.
“After the turbulent year of 2020 — and as we continue to come out on the other side of the pandemic — our board and staff wanted to plan a safe, family-friendly event that supports all businesses and celebrates our community,” Bob Durkin, chamber president, said in announcing the event.
The chamber planned the party in place of its annual dinner and after seeing the success of the inaugural ice festival that happened downtown over the winter. It will welcome guests for fun at its headquarters at Penn Avenue and Mulberry Street and along the adjacent blocks, with the action happening Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. (coinciding with the First Friday Art Walk) and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.
Organizers will set up five stages — three for music and two for other performances. Guests can find music stages at the chamber’s veranda; the showmobile, set up between the 200 and 300 blocks; and at the plaza next to PNC Bank, 201 Penn Ave.
Dance groups, twirlers, actors and other performance artists, meanwhile, will entertain on stages in the greenspace across from PNC Bank and in the parking lot of the Electric City Center, 329 Penn Ave.
“These two blocks are jammed,” said Mari Potis, director of membership and events for the chamber.
Much of the Electric City Center’s parking lot will be dedicated to a vendor marketplace, a tented area with about 45 to 50 sellers. Vendors also will be set up between the ESSA Bank & Trust building, 300 Mulberry St., and the Daisy Collective, 328 Penn Ave. Potis said there will be a lot of open air space with big walkways for visitors.
“There’s lots of room for people to be very safe,” she said.
Guests will find another marketplace in the parking lot next to Sambuca Italian Grille & Bar, 234 Penn Ave., which also will have an “artists’ alley.” The chamber held an open call for artists who will do commissioned pieces there.
Kids can enjoy special activities, too, and visitors can grab some free ice cream and popcorn outside the chamber.
“People can come out and don’t have to spend any money, necessarily, just to get out, listen to some music, have a nice time, see some entertainment and just realize that we will get back to normal,” Potis said.
The event still will follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which means guests must wear masks. The chamber has medical professionals advising it on safety, Potis said, and will bring in portable toilets, wash stations and sanitization. Designated “standing pods” also will keep people safely separated while enjoying the entertainment.
The festival will not have any food trucks, but Potis noted that the blocks hosting the party have several restaurants. And the rest of the city will be ready to welcome visitors for the weekend, too, as Chamber Restaurant Week, which began May 2, continues through Saturday.
Potis said they have a list of 90 restaurants and will have handouts and signs to give block party guests more information about the week, which aims to bring some much-needed business to an industry hurt by the pandemic. Because of that impact, the chamber did not ask restaurants to offer specials as they would in a typical restaurant week, but eateries can if they want to. For a list of restaurants and more information, visit scrantonchamber.com/chamber-restaurant-week.
“They’re still trying to get up, in the restaurants, at 100%,” Potis said. “This is our way of helping them just a little step further.”
Potis believes people are looking forward to getting back outdoors and going somewhere they can safely enjoy live music and more.
“It’s been a very, very positive response across the board,” she said.
If you go
- What: Chamber Community Block Party
- When: Friday, May 7, 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, May 8, noon to 4 p.m.
- Where: 200 and 300 blocks of Penn Avenue, Scranton
- Details: scrantonchamber.com/events/the-chamber-community-block-party or 570- 342-7711
Block party music schedule
Friday, May 7
The Chamber Stage
- 5 p.m.: Justin Padró Latin Jazz Ensemble
- 6 p.m.: Schütengiggles
- 7 p.m.: Gary Rixner Trio
- 8 p.m.: Indigo Moon Brass Band
Needle Law Stage
- 5 p.m.: Merchants of Groove
- 6 p.m.: Picture Perfect Band
- 7 p.m.: The TRiBE
- 8 p.m.: Modern Ties
PNC Music Stage
- 5 p.m.: Dave Brown of Dave Brown & the Dishonest Fiddlers
- 6 p.m.: Brendan Brisk Band
- 7 p.m.: The Boastfuls
- 8 p.m.: Gabby Borges Band
Saturday, May 8
The Chamber Stage
- Noon: Brenda Fernandes
- 1 p.m.: Wade Preston Band
- 2 p.m.: Electric City Dixieland Band
- 3 p.m.: Kerry Kenny Band
Needle Law Stage
- Noon: Franklin House
- 1 p.m.: Young Lion
- 2 p.m.: Dustin Douglas & the Electric Gentleman
- 3 p.m.: Clarence Spady & the Electric City Band
PNC Music Stage
- Noon: Resham Band of the Bhutanese Cultural Foundation
- 1 p.m.: Band of Rustlers
- 2 p.m.: Jacob Cole Handpan Trio
- 3 p.m.: BONGA and the Vodou Drums of Haiti
Caitlin Heaney West is the content editor for Access NEPA and oversees the Early Access blog in addition to working as a copy editor and staff writer for The Times-Tribune. An award-winning journalist, she is a summa cum laude graduate of Shippensburg University and also earned a master’s degree from Marywood University. Caitlin joined the Times-Shamrock family in 2009 and lives in Scranton. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5107; or @cheaneywest