“We feel that it’s going to put participants in danger—in jeopardy,” Mitchell explained. “It’s not going to give this appearance of what we wanted to happen. There’s a lot of dirt. There’s already tracks cut into Park Road for the construction process. The road is being shut down.
“Things are going on that we weren’t aware of that, again, are just happening when you have a $16 million construction project. It’s moving forward and that’s important for this community too. We felt it wasn’t a safe environment for the event.”
Mitchell said the initial decision to move Nationality Days from the original Merchant Street location was made because the infrastructure is not advantageous for the event.
"Electricity on the street has been shot for three years and the chamber has had to pay for artificial electricity, electricity through generators, to keep the event accomplished," Mitchell explained.
Last year, Mitchell said the chamber paid $18,500, a price that jeopardized the future of the chamber and the event. The chamber paid the expense and held the festival at a loss, he said.
Meanwhile, he said they looked around to see where the event would work in Ambridge and felt St. Mary’s church parking lot was the ideal location and size with exposure to Route 65 and a visually attractive neighborhood.
The infrastructure was started to have permanent electricity in the lot for the vendors, crafters and participants.
“At the end of the day, we wanted to have an event in Ambridge that showed a positive side of Ambridge, that was beneficial for all of the participants, it was a safe place for it to happen that everybody could benefit from it.”
The chamber board didn’t want to cancel the event, he said, especially in the 50th year.
Getting emotional, Mitchell said too many things have disappeared from the community and he didn’t want Nationality Days to be one of them.
Chamber members reached out to Harmony Township to see if they had a location with the infrastructure that could handle the festival, Mitchell said.
The old Wright Chevrolet dealership was suggested and Kenny Wright, the owner, gave his blessing to hold the event there for free, Mitchell said.
This means the event will be free instead of having the $2-$3 admission fee the chamber had planned to charge. Next to the dealership in the big open lot is enough parking for about 300 cars, he said.
“Obviously it took a lot of pressure off of us from a cost stand point,” Mitchell said. “…I think we’re going to have a pretty successful Nationality Days.”
Mitchell apologized to Merchant Street business owners who might be upset. He said the goal is to get the event back to Merchant Street in the future and to work on getting the infrastructure updated.
Ambridge Set to begin Sewer Project, Mar. 2015
Park Road Survey finds residents split, Nov. 2014
A letter to Ambridge Connection, Nov. 2014
Sewer Line Project Raises Concerns , Oct. 2014
Ambridge Plans to move Nationality Days, Oct. 2014
Economy Business to debut at Nationality Days, May 2014
Ambridge Nationality Days Staying Put on Merchant Street, Feb. 2014