Warren’s Italian-American festival features Mass, music, parade today

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By William K. Alcorn




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The Italian game of Morra is popular at the Warren Italian American Festival.

Today is the last chance to enjoy the food and entertainment and renew acquaintances as the 33rd annual Warren Italian-American Heritage Festival winds down on Warren’s Courthouse Square.

Today’s agenda includes an Italian outdoor Mass at 9:30 a.m., a continental breakfast at 10:45 a.m., bocce tournament at 11 a.m., and a parade at 2 p.m.

Performing on the main stage in the evening are Dominic Tocco from 7 to 8 p.m.; Tony Ieluzzi from 8:15 to 9:15 p.m., and Amanda Beagle of Warren, 2004 Miss Ohio at 9:30 p.m.

People come out by many thousands for the food and entertainment and to meet people, said Carol Ficeti, president of the festival committee.

Some even center class and family reunions around the festival, she said.

The event is a chance to display the Italian community’s cultural heritage, said Ficeti, who noted that the cultural tent directly in front of the Trumbull County Courthouse shows the history of all 20 of Italy’s regions and a display detailing the Italian journey in the Mahoning Valley.

“The Italian festival helps keep our heritage alive,” said Phil Sidoti, who has served on the festival committee for all of its 33 years.

“It lets young people learn where their grandparents [came from] and know what they went through to get to the United States and the Mahoning Valley,” Sidoti said.

He said it was the idea of Lou Metter to have an Italian-American heritage festival in Warren.

“Lou had a dream that became a reality, and he died the next year.”

Allyson Scala, one of the younger members of the festival committee, said it is important that young people get involved in preserving Italian heritage and the Warren festival that celebrates it.

Gianna Gray, 14, of Cortland, might be a candidate for future involvement.

At this year’s pasta sauce contest, Gianna’s marinara sauce tied for third place, and her meat sauce was judged second.

Accompanied by their daughters, Sloane, 4, and Isla, 2, Mike and Ashley Kasula of the Chicago area provided proof that the festival draw is strong to former area residents.

Ashley grew up in the Calumet, Ill., area, but Mike grew up in Sharon, Pa. His family lives in Hubbard. Primarily, they came back to the area to celebrate the birth of a son this week to Mike’s sister, Amanda Haun. But they also took in the Italian-American Heritage Festival, to which Mike came to for many years when he lived in the area.

When asked what she liked about the festival, Ashley said: “Besides the wine ... the pasta.”

Another couple, both of whom retired from Packard Electric, then moved to the Las Vegas area and are now back in Warren, enjoyed the festival Saturday.

They said they liked the food and entertainment, but noted it is a great event at which to meet people from school and work whom they haven’t seen in years.

Darla Sangregorio of Brookfield, originally of Warren, and Denise Kasula, Mike’s mother of Hubbard, not only enjoy the festival as spectators but also as volunteers together the last five years, this year in the culture tent.

“We especially like meeting people, the food and entertainment, and the bocce and morra tournaments,” they said.

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