Mokena’s first Festa Italiana celebrates heritage
By Erin Gallagher Correspondent July 21, 2014 4:54PM
Linda Fox was among the volunteers selling cannoli and other desserts at Festa Italiana for Heartland Service Dogs. | Erin Gallagher/For Sun-Times Media.
Updated: August 23, 2014 6:19AM
About 1,000 people came out Sunday to support Mokena’s first Festa Italiana.
After the Mokena Lions rolled up the carpets from the Firecracker Dance on Saturday night, the Mokena Downtown Merchants Association and Knights of Columbus rolled out the welcome mat Sunday.
Organizers of the two events found a way physically and financially to have both using the same tents in the Metra parking lot there over the weekend.
“The Lions have been gracious enough to let us use these tents,” said Vince Di Fiore, of the merchants association.
People kept coming up to Di Fiore late Sunday afternoon, thanking and congratulating him.
“Great job, it was well worth it,” said Craig McCutcheon, of Mokena, who is also a member of the Mokena Lions.
Many of the people who attended were “from the old neighborhood,” meaning 69th Street and Honore between Ashland and Damen, Mayor Frank Fleischer said.
“A lot of these people were from the same neighborhood from the South Side of Chicago,” he said. “For the first time, this (event) couldn’t have turned out any better.”
The fest started with a traditional religious procession from St. Mary Cemetery, complete with the iconic statue of the Virgin Mary.
“That went very, very well, we had about 125 people in the procession,” Di Fiore said. “We had young teenage ‘festa’ helpers carry (the statue).”
The event featured Italian food, including sausage, beef sandwiches and pizza. There were also plenty of desserts, including gelato and cannoli.
The main stage under the tent was filled all day with acts, including Di Fiore, himself, singing Sinatra.
“I don’t impersonate, that’s my voice,” Di Fiore said. “I just sing his music.”
And sing he did, and celebrate did they all.