PADUA – After two years of almost total stop, the Padua Pro Loco have elected 2022 as the year of full restart and 70% of the festivals that animate the towns are already in the planning stage. Not without some inevitable fear linked to the surge in energy costs, raw materials and food, but the desire of the world of volunteering to get back into the game is great. And the two years of hardship and losses imposed by Covid have also become a way to renew statutes, update practices and train volunteers.
Today the Pro Loco in the province are 92, they count almost 10 thousand registered volunteers and every year they organize hundreds of events, both their own and those in collaboration with parishes, municipalities and associations. Before the pandemic there were about 500 a year and now, even with all the necessary precautions, the aim is to return to large numbers. For now, we are talking about about 200 events for this 2022, of which about 140 are in the planning phase.
«The desire to leave is tangible. We see it not only among the volunteers and members but also among the people who come to the offices to ask when events and activities will resume, making themselves available to participate and help ». To express satisfaction is Giuseppe Pengo, new provincial president of Unpli fresh from the appointment arrived on Monday, as well as former president of the Pro Loco Legnaro. “We want to be more than positive: almost all the traditional events are already being organized,” he adds. Some events will also be held in the next few weeks, for example the various Carnival appointments that were skipped, then the bulk will start in May. People want to socialize, to return to share experiences and have fun ».
Therefore, if the Paduan summer seems destined to return to enjoy the beloved festivals, with realities capable of attracting tens of thousands of people at a time, it is also true that first the pandemic and the Ukrainian situation now require caution.
«Theoretically, from April there will no longer be a state of emergency and with it distancing rules and the like continues Pengo Our line, however, is that of prudence. We will try to avoid situations of chaos, to overdo it. This is both on the public health front and on that of price increases. The sudden increases in costs we are witnessing will inevitably weigh on the festivals as well. All the Pro Loco are carefully evaluating the prices of the food to be served, recording average increases of 25%. This is why it is even more important to focus on local and zero-kilometer typical products, as we have always done, especially to contain the impact on citizens’ pockets. In short, if we have to work in a more contained way, we will do it by focusing on quality anyway ».
The first year of the pandemic alone had cost the Padua Pro Loco about 30 million euros in lost revenues. And the last one was no less. Now the intent is to return to full capacity and the watchwords are inclusion and involvement. «One of our mission will be to involve children, who have suffered a lot from the pandemic concludes Pengo. It is a duty for us adults to give them space, even entrusting them with small organizational roles, giving them confidence. Only in this way can we aim for a generational change that collects the precious heritage of those who have spent many years in the voluntary sector. And then there is the E-20 regional project in which some Paduan realities participate, which provides for festivals without architectural barriers and with an installation designed also for the disabled ».
“During Covid we invested heavily in training, including digital, aiming at online initiatives to involve citizens but also to train volunteers, adds Fernando Tomasello, outgoing Unpli provincial president and now national vice president. We are prepared to restart better than before. Let’s not forget that volunteering is not just festivals, but a constant attention, enhancement and care of the territory and its inhabitants, one with the traditions. And precisely in this context, for example, the fundraising organized during the pandemic or those of the goods destined for the Ukrainian population in recent days are inserted ».