Organizers prep for Harrisburg multicultural festival, promise celebration rain or shine

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The South Allison Hill Multicultural Festival promises to be bigger than normal this year. Organizers aren’t sure how the gloomy forecast will affect numbers, but they’re pushing forward, rain or shine.

Saturday’s festivities will center around the community garden at Derry and Kittatinny streets; both of those roads will be shut down around the 1400 block of Derry as people there get pumped up.

Before the weekend festival, Tiffany Carter and her daughter Koriann enjoyed the weather Friday.

“That’s what I was about to say,” Carter said, running around and spinning with her 3-year-old. “I’m glad it’s not raining.”

Saturday’s another story. The prospect for a clear day looks grim. But organizers say the multicultural show must go on.

Friday they finished off the prep work, packing up supplies and t-shirts into boxes so they can easily be set up on the street as soon as the roads close down.

Around 45 vendors will pack the garden, at least 15 more than normal; typically about 700 people show up.

“After so many years we feel like we’ve got it under control,” Julie Walter, neighborhood revitalization manager at Tri-County Community Action, one of the event’s organizers, said.

Now in its 15th year, the South Allison Hill Multicultural Festival fights the stigma the neighborhood is famous for.

“I think you need to have those timeouts where you’re really saying, this is South Allison Hill and we’re proud, and it’s a great neighborhood, and we’re a vibrant community,” Walter said.

Maria DeGarcia and her restaurant Tacos La Barca on Derry is part of that community.

She said in Spanish she thinks the festival is beautiful because everyone unites, even more so on Mother’s Day weekend, when the celebration of diversity is always held.

“This will be the first time my daughter’s gone” to the festival, Carter said, “so I’m super excited to see her experience.”

She plans to be there to share more culture with Koriann.

“We all know the city’s not the best,” she said, “so when people can put their stuff aside and, you know, commune together, then it’s always a good thing.”

The festivities kick off at noon Saturday with a parade around Allison Hill. It runs until 4 p.m.

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