Italian-American Heritage Festival fills Rose Tree Park – Delco Times
UPPER PROVIDENCE— Food, music and family entertainment marked the 11th annual Italian-American Heritage Festival at Rose Tree Park on Saturday. After skipping a year in 2020, due to the pandemic, the Festival returned one day, smiling by the early October sun, which drew hundreds and hundreds of people from near and far and transformed the park into a sea of red, white, and green.
The annual festival, a celebration of Italian-American heritage and culture, included a pétanque court, a car show featuring Italian sports cars, children’s activities, games, Italian authors and artists, entertainment and, of course, Italian food and desserts galore. Although vendor stands featured businesses, novelty items, Italian themed products, nonprofits, etc., tasting Italian specialties certainly seemed like the main reason people wanted to be there. The smell of pizza, pasta, ‘red sauce’ and everything Italian hung in the air, coming from favorite culinary vendors such as Esposito’s Porchetta, Mamma Maria, Luigi and Giovanni, Cipolloni Catering, Napoletano Brothers, Bella Cucina, and more.
Charles Carlini and his mother, Trish Vicchiarelli of Middletown, were attending the Italian-American festival for the first time at Rose Tree Park. In years past, they had traditionally attended the annual St. Nicholas of Tolentine Festival in South Philadelphia. Due to the pandemic, this year the festival of St. Nicholas of Tolentine is replaced by a neighborhood festival, October 3-5, at Annunciation BVM Church, 1511 S. 10th St., Philadelphia, starting with the traditional Procession of Saints, and ending with a dancing evening hosted by Jerry Blavat.
“We’re from South Philly so we’ve always been to the St. Nicholas Festival, but I love it here,” Vicchiarelli said. “We will definitely be coming here every year from now on too – and we love being outside on such a beautiful day too!”
This year’s Italian-American festival included a special tribute to first responders and fallen heroes at the Delaware County First Responders Memorial in Rose Tree Park ahead of the festival’s official start. To honor them for their service, the first responders were encouraged to collect a voucher at the entrance to the Festival to enjoy a free meal at the Napoletano brothers’ kiosk.
Monsignor Ralph Chieffo, parish priest of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine parish in Upper Providence, officially opened the festival on stage with a prayer, followed by the presentation of special guests and the start of non-stop entertainment until the conclusion of the festival at 6 p.m. Lisa Campbell, Tre Bella, Lauren Cifoni, Moreno Fruzzetti, The Blackbird Society Orchestra, Christy Sutton and Dante Fiore.
Gemma Bilal stood outside one of the moon’s many bounces, watching her sons play. She said her family was having a great time.
“We’ve only been living at Media for four years, but I’ve already attended three of these Italian festivals,” Bilal explained. “Kids love games and we enjoy food, music and all the fun. It’s a beautiful day just to go out and have some fun!
The festival is presented and sponsored by a coalition of Delaware County Italian-American organizations (CIAO Delco). The members of CIAO Delco are Associazione Regionale Abruzzese Delco, Associazione Regionale Abruzzese Delaware Valley, Christopher Columbus Memorial Association, Filitalia Delco, Societa da Vinci, Justinian Society of Delaware County, St. Anthony diPadova Society, SWP, District 5 Grand Lodge of PA Sons and Daughters from Italy and Benvenuto Lodge # 2572.
This year’s festival was further sponsored by Cento Foods, DeLallo Foods, Neumann University, Visit Delco PA, Wilmington University and Widener University.
CIAO Delco supports the following charities with proceeds from its festival: the communities of Don Guanella and Divine Providence, Cooley’s Anemia, the HEADstrong Foundation and Italian studies and nursing programs at local universities.