By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
Marenna Amusements owners George Marenna, Jr. and George Marenna III are bringing a new festival to the West Haven shoreline in July, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi announced.
Shoreline Fest will mark a return to “more of a fair atmosphere” featuring food tents, nonprofit booths, crafts and, of course, rides, said mayoral adviser Tom McCarthy, who was recently contacted by the father-son team about the festival.
The festival is set for July 19-22 and July 26-28 in Old Grove Park, off Palace Street, and on the nearby lawn at Captain Thomas Boulevard and Oak Street. The popular shoreline venues are also known as Parcel I and Parcel J, respectively.
The hours are 6 p.m.-midnight July 19-20, noon-10 p.m. July 21, noon-7 p.m. July 22, 6 p.m.-midnight July 26-27, and noon-10 p.m. July 28.
Rossi said the privately operated festival will take place at no cost to the city.
According to Marenna Amusements’ contract with the city, the company is assuming all festival-related responsibilities and fees, including paying for non-city maintenance workers and extra-duty police, obtaining all permits and licenses, and paying for electricity, portable toilets and rubbish removal.
Marenna will use the proceeds from food concession rental fees “to offset the cost of police services and city expenses.”
Under the contract, the company will also pay the city a one-time fee of $5,000 for up to 21 amusement rides.
Before the cancellation of this year’s Savin Rock Festival because of financial constraints, the Marennas, who are no strangers to giving back to the city, supplied the festival’s rides and games for 23 years.
With Shoreline Fest now a go, the Orange-based amusement company is partnering with the West Haven High School Band Parents Association, a longtime participant of the Savin Rock Festival, which previously depended on the festival for holding its annual craft fair fundraiser.
Rossi said the new festival will allow the band parents to continue having the fair and raising much-needed money for their association.
Throughout the festival, Marenna Amusements will offer bracelets for unlimited rides, a family pack of 24 tickets and single tickets.
Connected by a midway of games, both venues will showcase food vendors and rides, including a Grand Carousel on the grounds of the 148-year-old Grove.
Marenna Jr. said the carousel was filmed in New York’s Central Park in 2016 and appeared in the Kevin Spacey movie “Rebel in the Rye” last year.
“I am thankful to George Marenna and his son for rising to the occasion and bringing this festival to our shoreline for all ages to enjoy,” Rossi said. “While it will not replace the Savin Rock Festival, Shoreline Fest will preserve the legacy and spirit of old Savin Rock as a destination for family-friendly fun. I look forward to seeing my fellow Westies at the festival in July.”