As you may have seen from posts on our websites, the Italian Festival along with every other sporting and entertainment event has been either canceled or postponed due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus. With all the work that went into the production of the event and seeing the fringes start to come apart, we made the difficult choice to postpone.
When the coronavirus hit northern Italy with such calamity the Sbandieratori living in Asti had to cancel, then our headliner canceled as he lives in Milan, and then it started happening locally as well … we could see the train wreck coming and we had to make some hard decisions and put our personal interests aside and look out for the good and safety of others and our community. It became a ‘no brainer’ to make the decision on Thursday, March 12, at noon, just one day from setup and two days from the opening ceremonies, to postpone the event.
Immediately the phone calls started and to our surprise, a grateful group of vendors and a supportive city backed our decision in postponing the much-anticipated Italian Festival. We alerted the news media and that evening we were able to broadcast on location with FOX 10 news. With a heavy heart, we stood where the main stage would have been set up a few hours later and confirmed the postponement.
That was just 13 days ago and so much has happened since then. Businesses, offices, restaurants, all “non-essential” services have been closed, some indefinitely. Italy’s death toll surpassed that of China’s where the disease had originally started. The US went from just a few cases to be the number one country with new cases being diagnosed.
Things are changing globally by the hour. We hold our breath and quietly speak to God and ask for guidance and support. The Italians started the slogan “Insieme, ce la faremo”, translated, “Together, we will make it” And that is really the point of this post. Not to focus on the negativity associated with the outbreak, but to find the silver lining in all this. That in spite of global casualties and the lockdown and hardships created, we can find some light of hope to bring us far enough into the future that we come out even stronger.
We live in a new reality. We no longer have a laundry list of things “to do” or places to go. Everything is closed outside of a grocery store or pharmacy. No movie theaters, baseball, basketball, concerts … you get the point. What do we do? We have to find ways to keep our minds occupied and in this new world of social distancing, stay connected.
We can now (perhaps forcibly) slow down to smell the proverbial roses. Get to know our children, our neighbors from a distance. Find creative ways to do things together under the same roof (we can’t go out yet). Learn to cook a new dish or just learn how to cook. Give away all the toilet paper we hoarded from everyone else. (had to throw that one in). What about sending videos to family and friends far away? Online cooking classes and recipes are everywhere and are free. As long as you don’t need toilet paper, you can find most ingredients in the store again.
Read a book. Watch movies or plan a movie night with the family. Shop for those that cannot leave their homes. Find ways to give without placing you or your family in danger. And very important, do not let the news overwhelm you.
We are reading stories of families reconnecting. Values being rediscovered. Life reimagined.
And look at what is happening with the fewer cars, boats, and planes occupying our space. Rivers are clearing up. Canals start to breed life again. The air is clearer. Maybe we’re putting a small dent into global warming with fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Who knows …? The question is, can we stick to the positives, with this new way of being and not go back to the previous way of living?
Our new reality is not so bad. It’s certainly not like the movie with Will Smith, I Am Legend. We will survive and we will come out of this stronger and better. We can always do better. Let’s keep this behavioral shift in place and expand on it.
I hope and pray that our family and friends living in Italy are safe. This virus has left a swath of casualties and we have all been touched directly or indirectly in some way. For everyone there, we continue praying for the best. Confinement seems to work, and we hope that everyone heads this call and learns from it.
Here at home, in Arizona, The Italian Festival, the celebration of life, art, and Italian Culture will happen. It will be bigger, bolder and dare I say better. It will be the greatest celebration of Italian food and entertainment for our families this side of Italy. We have a bigger reason to celebrate, it happens this fall, and yes, it will be in downtown Phoenix.
As we start to weave our way through this shutdown over the next few weeks and bring some normalcy and life back into the streets, we will see things start to fall into place and we can then make formal announcements on the details for the event.
You can always stay up to date by signing up for our emails or follow us on Facebook and Instagram. In the meantime, stay safe through these unprecedented times. Do not take unnecessary chances. Life is precious and although we can’t hug and kiss each other on the cheek as Italian so love to do, we can send virtual hugs and kisses and well wishes and fill our hearts with prayers and gratitude.