BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It’s one of the biggest festivals of the year in Baltimore, and there will be food, fun and friendship in the streets.
Ron Matz reports a patron saint will bring thousands to Little Italy this weekend.
Mimmo Cricchio Jr. is ready for the St. Gabriel’s Festival. He’ll be playing bocce ball.
“I hope I’m good,” he said. “I’ve been practicing for a while for this weekend’s tournament at the festival. I’d like to give a good showing for the community.”
Bocce ball is just part of the fun. You can enjoy lots of food in Little Italy this weekend.
“Our trademark dish is the porketta sandwich with the broccoli raab,” said Dominic Pompa, vice president of the St. Gabriel Society. “Of course, we have the fried dough. Everybody loves the fried dough. We also have calzone, pizza, chicken parm, pit beef, Italian sausage. It’s all about the food.”
For those who attend St. Leo’s, the feast of St. Gabriel is important.
“Saturday and Sunday we show greater honor and glory to God by showing our love for his servant, St. Gabriel,” said Father Salvatore Furnari, of St. Leo’s Church. “We have a special place in our hearts and minds for St. Gabriel because many of the parishioners here came from Abruzzi, the town of his birth.”
The festival started in 1927 and now raises money for three different organizations.
“St. Leo’s Church, the St. Gabriel congregation and the Little Italy Lodge. It’s a joint effort for all three. At St. Gabriel’s, we give away a scholarship each year, and this helps fund that,” said festival chairman Will Matricciani.
“The festival is one of our big fundraisers of the year, so it’s important. It helps us overcome any expenses that we have here in the church during the course of the year,” said Furnari.
So come to Little Italy and enjoy.
“It’s all about the family coming together, all the fun, the music is great, the dancing and, of course, the food,” Pompa said.
“We have a special mass in celebration of St. Gabriel. The main celebrant will be our urban vicar, Bishop Dennis Madden. There will also be a procession through the streets, and at 3:30 Sunday we have a special concert of sacred music,” Furnari said.
Volunteers play a huge role in the festivities.
“We have more than 50 volunteers, and a lot of people just show up the day of the festival and help out. We’re getting ready for this three weeks before it starts,” Pompa said.
“I want to thank all the volunteers,” Matricciani said. “Without all of them, this doesn’t get done. My eternal gratitude goes out to everyone who’s helped me.”
Festival hours are noon until 8 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
“We’ll also have a procession through the streets after 9:30 Mass on Sunday,” Matricciani said.
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