John Caniglia, Cleveland, July 18, 2013
Citing chatter on social media that talked of violence, the city Thursday canceled this weekend’s Coventry street fair, marking the second year in a row the event has been dropped.
This year’s fair was to be celebrated more than two years after large groups of kids disrupted the event, angering residents and business owners who cherished the annual festivals that date to the 1970s.
The Coventry Village Family Arts Day was scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, with music, magicians, jugglers and art work. It was billed as a smaller version of the usual Coventry Street Arts Fairs, the decades-old festivals that drew tens of thousands of people.
Mayor Edward Kelley said the decision to cancel came after police monitored social media that contained messages posted about the event. Twitter messages said youth intended to start fights at the fair.
Kelley also cited incidents last weekend at a festival at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, the former St. Gregory the Great on South Green Road in South Euclid. Police were forced to use pepper spray to break up small skirmishes as youths left the festival.
“We came to the conclusion — and not just a snap judgment but based on days of planning and looking into things — that the event shouldn’t take place,” said Cleveland Heights Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson.
Last year, Presser’s group canceled the arts fair about six weeks before it was to happen, based on what took place June 26, 2011. That fair attracted thousands of families and residents from across the region and for much of the day it was considered one of the most successful fairs.
But about 5 p.m., teens rushed through the crowds, pushed people over and sparked fights. More than a dozen people were arrested.