• The Star Staff

Health chief: San Sebastián Street Festival in January uncertain

By John McPhaul


The celebration of the 52nd edition of the San Sebastián Street Festival (known in Spanish as Fiesta de la Calle San Sebastián, or SanSe for short) in January of next year seems uncertain, island Health Secretary Lorenzo González Feliciano said Wednesday.

“The [constrictions on] mobility that exist in Old San Juan and the great number of people who enter this type of activity” is an environment of great risk for becoming infected with the coronavirus, González Feliciano said in a radio interview with journalist Rubén Sánchez.

Tens of thousands of people go to the event by ferry from Cataño, where in recent years a small festival has also been held. The main site of the festivities is Old San Juan.

The Urban Train and Metropolitan Bus Authority and private buses also transport tens of thousands of people to the celebration every day.

The four-day event attracts people from all over Puerto Rico as well as visitors from abroad, the Health secretary noted, so in times of pandemic it is not possible to protect thousands of revelers from coronavirus infection.

The San Sebastián Street Festival typically starts on the second Thursday in January and runs through Sunday. As the Star reported Oct. 5, Old San Juan Merchants Association Vice President Juan Fernández said in an interview that there has been no conversation about the 2021 edition of the festival not only due to the COVID-19 pandemic but also because it would be taking place after an election year.

“When there have been government changes, you know that the elected government takes their seats at the beginning of January and they have two weeks left to organize the event; it’s impossible for them to organize it [sooner],” Fernández said.

The Farmacia Luma owner said that what would be “ideal” would be for a municipal non-governmental organization to be in charge of organizing the festival, but “since the municipality took over the festival, now, when we see who [takes over] the municipal government -- we don’t know who will win -- we have to see what approach the next mayor will take.”

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