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Italian pride from far and wide on display at Rose Tree Park’s annual festival

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Delaware County Daily Times

UPPER PROVIDENCE, Pa. Rose Tree Park was under a sea of green-white-red and red-white-blue on June 5 as flags of both Italy and United States fluttered in the wind and welcomed thousands of people to the 12th annual Italian American Heritage Festival.

From left: CIAO Delco Board executive director Tracy Price-Lochetto, CIAO Delco board member Rose Juliano Patton and volunteers Tiziana Murray and Lauren Abercrombie welcome festivalgoers.

The cultural celebration of family, friends, food and fun featured Italian personalities, authors and artists, an Italian car show, vendors, displays of interest, games for adults and children, a bocce tournament, Italian music and dancers and continuous professional entertainment, with something for every age and interest. Musical headliners included Fulvio and Sal, The Singing DJs, and The Tre Peperoni. Actress Mary Lou Koch and Italian radio personality Melissa Cannavo-Marino were the emcees.

Italian food specialties included every-thing from cannoli, ravioli, gnocchi and gelato to pizza, pasta, fettuccine and espresso. “It is very gratifying to be able to bring thousands of our community friends to Rose Tree Park to enjoy a day of fun, great food, great entertainment and also help us to raise funds for our charities,” said Nick Rapagnani, president of Associazione Regionale Abruzz-ese Delco and organizer of the annual event.

Melissa Cannavo-Marino visits her on-air co-hosts Nick Alessandrini (left) and Brian Soscia at the Festival’s radio booth hosted by iHeartRadio’s Delaware division.

The Italian American Heritage Festival was planned and hosted by the Coalition of Italian American Organizations of Delaware County. CIAO Delco is made up of eight Italian American groups that are dedicated to promoting the vitality and longevity of Italian American culture, including Associazione Regionale Abruzzese Delco, Associazione Regionale Abruzzese of the Delaware Valley, Christopher Columbus Memorial Associa-tion, Justinian Society of Delaware County, Societa’ da Vinci, Sons and Daughters of Italy – District 5, and St. Anthony di Padova Society, SWP.

“Every week we go to a mini Italian festival at my mom’s in Upper Darby where she cooks a huge dinner,” joked Michael D’Antonio of Clifton Heights, who was at the festival for the first time with his wife Kara and children Everly, 4, Michael, 4, and Darcy,

1. “My mom has the whole family every week – there are eleven cousins – so we are used to having our genuine Italian food on Sundays. This looks like we won’t be missing the good Italian food today,” he said as he looked around at the dozens of authentic Italian food booths lining the perimeter of the festival.

“We’re excited to be here,” added his wife Kara.

Zach Thebner of Media and his wife Anna were also at the festival for their first time ever. Zach said he is of Italian descent, and Anna said she is Russian American.

“We like the Italian culture and the fact that everyone is celebrating it here,” Anna said. We like this festival because it’s a nice gathering place for everyone to get together and show the strength of our community.”

At the Italian American Heritage Festival, Delaware County Councilwoman Christine Reuther, on behalf of council, recognized June 5 as Italian American Day in Delaware County and presented a resolution to CIAO Delco in recognition of their passion and dedication towards promoting Italian culture in the region, including supporting a variety of scholarships and memorial programs.

“Delaware County is fortunate to have a diverse and vibrant community and Italian Americans have contributed to the rich heritage of the county,” reads part of the resolution.

CIAO Delco contributed proceeds from the festival to the Communities of Don Guanella and Divine Providence, HEADstrong Foundation, Cooley’s Anemia, Italian studies and nursing programs at local universities. Additionally, proceeds from the festival benefited the Delaware County Law Enforcement Memorial and the Delaware County Fallen Firefighter and EMS Memorial, both situated in the historic Rose Tree Park.

“Blue skies and sunshine, smiling faces, musical entertainment and a gastronomic tour through Italy, right here in Rose Tree Park – It doesn’t get much better than that!” organizer Price-Lochetto said.

For more information on CIAO Delco, visit http://www.ciaodelco.org. (Reprinted by permission PEG DEGRASSA/MediaNews Group)

Peg DeGrassa
Author: Peg DeGrassa

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