Harrisburg announces Kipona plans

Harrisburg has announced plans for its Kipona festival during the Labor Day weekend.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse said the majority of events will take place on City Island, while some vendors will remain on Front Street.

He insisted the festival was not a contraction, rather an expansion onto City Island.

“Yes, we have the pow-wow. Yes, we have the Festival of India. Yes, we have the martial arts display,” Papenfuse said. “They’re all taking place in different places along City Island. It’s going to be great.”

The mayor said Front Street will be shut down from Locust Street to Walnut Street during the three-day festival, mainly in front of the walking bridge connecting downtown to City Island.

In years past, the city shut down Front Street from Forester to Market.

Previously, the city explained there are hefty permit costs. According to a PennDOT spokesperson, there is no fee associated with a permit to close a state road such as Front Street.

Police Chief Tom Carter later explained there is a $2,100 fee associated with the permit that goes to a the third-party company Protection Services to provide a detour route.

The area in front of the walking bridge will be shut down to accommodate the heavier foot traffic. There will be bike taxis that will be available to transport people to and from City Island and Front Street free of charge, according to the mayor.

Papenfuse said the city and Standard Parking reached an agreement to allow free parking in two locations. He said parking will be free all three days on City Island, including the garage on the south end, and on Saturday at the River Street Garage.

“Plenty of room for everyone,” he said. “We’re doing that because we want to encourage this connectivity between City Island and the downtown and the riverfront.”

The mayor said fireworks will be set off Sunday evening at dusk. Papenfuse said the cost of the fireworks is about $20,000, nearly half of the $37,500 expense the city is putting towards Kipona.

He said other sponsors are helping with various costs, but did not say how much.

The mayor explained there was never accurate financial reporting when it came to festivals under the Thompson and Reed administrations. He called the records an “abyss.”

He also said the city spent more than $100,000 in previous years, a reason why his administration is conducting an internal audit of the Parks & Rec books.

The mayor said the new Arts, Culture and Tourism Department has worked hard to balance finances and fun. He said in the future, a transparent process for festival budgets will include input and vetting from City Council.

The mayor also said they would look into outsourcing the planning and organization for big events, like Artsfest in May.

“[$37,500] is relatively a small amount of money, which I feel like we are the stewards of the taxpayers’ money,” he said. “We gotta make our money go as far as possible and do as much as possible.”

Kipona will kick off at noon on Saturday, August 30 and run until 6 p.m. on Labor Day.

A map is available at stayandplayhbg.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Kipona-Map-and-Tentative-Information.pdf.

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