NORWALK, Conn. About 50 people braved the heat Saturday morning for a walk through streets off East Avenue in the annual procession of the St. Ann Club to St. Thomas the Apostle Church. It was the modern version of an Italian tradition dating to 1805. Saturday afternoon, after temperatures had climbed, they stood on pavement tending grills, rolling out dough and selling drinks to raise money for their favorite charities.
But the hot weather dampened this year's St. Ann Club Feast , according to President Joe Valiante, who acknowledged that attendance was way down.
It's an annual tradition, but there was no feast last year. "I think people missed it, especially since Westport didn't have a feast this year," said Rose Colaccio, who was part of the crew of women cutting dough and shaping it into balls to be fried and topped with sugar or tomato sauce.
"The procession we do every year," she said of the march she and other members took, escorting their statue of St. Ann through side roads over to East Avenue and the church. After a Mass spoken in Italian, they walked back.
"We've done this since 1805," Valiante said, referring to the tradition that began in his ancestors' home of Jelsi, Italy. He was sweating as he walked into the church.
There weren't many people at the feast on the steamy Saturday afternoon, allowing siblings Aurora Schyberg, 12, Orion Schyberg, 13, and Gabrielle Peterson, 9, to move easily from one ride to another. "I haven't been here in years and I loved it when I was a kid," their mother said, adding that the heat wasn't a problem.
James Walker of Bridgeport walked over from Selleck Street as the temperature was about 96 degrees. He thought the Italian Ice was perfect.
The feast, one of the club's fundraisers, continues Sunday at 4 p.m. Last week the club gave $15,000 to Female Soldiers Forgotten Heroes . They also give three $3,000 scholarships every year, one to a student from each high school in town. Recipients are also eligible for a $1,000 scholarship after they complete their first year of college.
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