NEW BEDFORD — The Whaling City Festival for 2019 has been canceled.

The New Bedford Police Union, which has organized the carnival-style festival for the past several years, announced on its Facebook page that they would not be able to host the festival this year due to "unforeseen circumstances."

New Bedford Police Union President Hank Turgeon said in the statement that "severe and ongoing staffing shortages within the City of New Bedford’s Police Department" are a significant contributing factor to the decision.

The union, which is currently engaged in contract negotiations with the City of New Bedford, also stated that the City "has chosen to operate its Police Department without a full complement of officers, and unfortunately this decision has negatively impacted the Union’s membership and resources."

In recent years, Sgt. Joshua Fernandes, treasurer of the New Bedford Police Union, has been one of the key organizers of the Whaling City Festival. Fernandes was arrested earlier this month on charges that he stole and defaced his ex-wife's van in Seekonk.

The 2019 Family Fun Festival Carnival & Circus, known to area residents as the Whaling City Festival, had been scheduled to be held July 11-14 at Buttonwood Park.

Turgeon said security deposits that had been received by the union from vendors will be returned shortly.

"The New Bedford Police Union remains committed to proudly protecting and serving the citizens of New Bedford, and sincerely hopes to sponsor this wonderful community event in the summers to come."

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