NORWALK, Conn. An earthquake almost half a world away has led to decades of festive activity in Norwalk, a feast that is keeping Joe Valiante, 5-year-old Anthony Vozzo and other members of the local Italian-American community busy this week.
The annual St. Ann Club feast begins Thursday night. Valiante, president of the club, said it's a tradition that has roots in Jelsi, Italy. "Every town (in Italy) has a patron saint," he said. "There was an earthquake in 1805 in the area. This town had very little damage compared to the other towns around."
Residents thanked the saint, and their descendants carried on the tradition when they moved here. The feast is a tradition that dates to the club's previous location on Bouton Street and features the same menu served for years, as well as children's rides, entertainment and a raffle. There is no admission fee.
A highlight for club members is the procession Saturday morning. They carry their St. Ann statue to St. Thomas the Apostle Church , where a Mass is celebrated in Italian. They walk back and have breakfast in the club's hall afterward.
Most members remember the feast from when they were children. Valiante says there used to be a traditional greased pole, which people would attempt to climb to get to the salami and other treats at the top.
Nick Allegretta, who was getting the grill ready Wednesday night, said members would be serving the same food that has always been dished up at the feast: pasta, sausage and peppers, hot dogs and hamburgers. This year, seafood will also be available.
The feast opens at 6 p.m. Thursday at the club, at 16 Hendricks St., just off Exit 16 of Interstate 95. It is also open at 6 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Members say there is plenty of free parking.
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