Easton’s beloved Lebanese Heritage Days is called off for 2020 due to pandemic

One of Easton’s most beloved and anticipated annual festivals has been canceled due to the coronavirus.

In 2020, for the first time in 43 years, the parking lot of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church at South Fourth and Ferry Streets won’t be abound with the lively celebration of Lebanese Heritage Days.

On Thursday, the church’s Father Youssef Keikati addressed parishioners in a letter posted to the church’s Facebook page announcing the festival’s cancellation. Heritage Days, which was scheduled for Aug. 1 and 2, is one of the many festivals and events that have been canceled due to the crowd restrictions from the coronavirus recovery plan, and while canceling Our Lady of Lebanon’s annual gathering is the safe thing to do, it’s a huge loss for Downtown Easton.

For the first time since 1978, the strong and tight-knit Lebanese-American community in Easton and the surrounding Lehigh Valley won’t have the chance to celebrate their culture and share in their traditional food and dancing with fellow Easton residents and visitors. The tabouli and dance troupes will be dearly missed until 2021.

“I have decided that to hold the festival this year would compromise our community for many reasons, and may also have serious consequences for a long time to come,” Keikati said in the letter.

Easton and the rest of the Lehigh Valley will move Friday to the green phase of Pennsylvania’s reopening plan, but that still limits gatherings up to 250 people. The festival annually draws thousands of community members and other attendees, including many from out of state.

Keikati said in his letter than members of the parish suggested a modified festival that adheres to the state’s guidelines, but a limited Heritage Days that can’t allow for its typical revelry and celebration just wouldn’t be the same.

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Connor Lagore may be reached at clagore@njadvancemedia.com.