For some Mamaroneck families, the returning St. Vito's Festa brought many firsts, but for others, like Billy Avery and even Mamaroneck Mayor Norman Rosenblum, the four-day celebration had been a staple of their childhood.
"It's like a big family get together," said Avery, a 10-year member of the Village of Mamaroneck Fire Department. Saturday, the life-long resident brought his wife Debby and soon-to-be one year old Emma to the event he grew up coming to.
The St. Vito's Festa was held annually until 2003. The parish decided to bring it back this year as one of the events celebrating its 100th anniversary. Laura Sanders, a Larchmont resident who brought her children every year when it was held annually, said, "It looks exactly the same."
"It's very family oriented," said Bonnie Casterella, co-chair of the Festa. Bonnie is married to the second assistant chief of Avery's department, Craig Casterella, who is also related to Town of Mamaroneck foreman Anthony Casterella. Avery is "pretty sure" he is also somehow related.
Bonnie's co-chair Jim Lanza also has deep roots in the St. Vito's family, and had the chance to catch up with one family member, Tom Foristel. Foristel, who had just recently celebrated his 50th anniversary, tried his luck in one of the shooting games, but his nephew Zachary Berman, 10, was the one cleaning up. He won a plant, stuffed animals and a gold fish, all of which he left with his grandmother while he chased down more prizes.
Gianni Angiulo, 13, was also excited for the shooting games, but Pina Fanelli's three boys Matteo, 2, Luca, 8, and Anthony, 11, preferred Duck Puck. Another festival-goer, two-year-old Tala, went on her first "big-girl" ride.
While many kids enjoyed the games and rides, parish manager Joseph Comblo said that people come for the food. Frank and Shawnna Tantillo enjoyed a meatball hero and sausage peppers, while their two children Leo and Lulu preferred the ice cream cones afterwards. "The food was good," Frank said.
Lauren Griese, a Harrison resident who used to come to the Festa as a child enjoyed a pizza frita. The dough was prepared at the food tentvand then fried by none-other than Mayor Rosenblum, who assured everyone the dough was Kocher.
"For a while there, things were on the downside, but Monsignor James White really turned it all around," said Rosenblum, adding that the parish's resurgence was a parallel to Mamaroneck itself. "Mamaroneck is the place to be now."
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