The Lead

No Christmas in NY for Pa. politicos: Pandemic prompts cancellation of annual Pa. Society bash

By: - July 16, 2020 10:27 am

2018 PA Society annual dinner. (Photo courtesy of the Pennsylvania Society –

The COVID-19 pandemic has succeeded in doing the one thing political reformers have been trying to do for years: It’s forced the cancellation of the annual Pennsylvania Society gala in New York City.

In a press release Thursday, the Pennsylvania Society, a nonprofit that celebrates service to the commonwealth, announced the cancellation of its 2020 dinner, scheduled for Dec. 5 in midtown Manhattan. 

“Canceling the annual dinner was not an easy decision, but it was the only decision,” said President Edward Sheehan. “So much remains in doubt regarding the severity of the COVID-19 virus this fall and winter. Our leadership Council simply was not comfortable putting our members and their guests at risk. By announcing now, we provide attendees with time to adjust their holiday plans.”

A tradition since 1908, the annual dinner recognizes a Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement award recipient each year. The recipient of the award chooses a Pennsylvania-based charity to receive a charitable donation from the society. 

Past recipients include Andrew Carnegie, President Dwight Eisenhower, Arnold Palmer and Guion Bluford. 

But the cancellation of the annual dinner doesn’t mean the society is surrendering to COVID-19. Sheehan said in the statement that the organization would be looking for ways to “salute Pennsylvania’s frontline workers”

“The Pennsylvania Society is all about celebrating service to the Commonwealth we all love, and so we can think of no better focus this year than celebrating these selfless men and women,” Sheehan said. 

For Pennsylvanians who were anticipating the annual event, Sheehan assures it will be back in New York next December. 

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Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller was the associate editor at the Capital-Star.