Mount Carmel Festival deeply rooted in family tradition


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By SAMANTHA PHILLIPS

sphillips@vindy.com

GIRARD

The annual Mount Carmel Festival on Wilson Avenue is deeply rooted in family tradition.

Rene Esposito’s father, Ray Ragozzine Sr., brought the festival back to Girard in 1977, to continue the tradition started by his father, Pasquale Ragozzine, years before.

Esposito and her family took the lead after Ray Ragozzine Sr. passed away in 1997.

“We have since carried it on in memory of him because that’s what he would have wanted,” she said.

Now, she and her husband, Myron Esposito, the festival co-chairman, are training their children so they can take over someday.

“Our kids grew up with this like I grew up with this. They’ve come since they were in strollers” she said. “It’s nice to see my kids want to get involved with this tradition.”

At first, there were just two vendors at the festival.

Now, vendors pack the festival grounds, and there’s live music entertaining the crowd nightly. There was also a bingo tent with proceeds benefitting the Girard RoboCats team.

Myron Esposito said the vendors at the festival are like family. Everyone knows each other by their first names.

“All our vendors get along, they all take care of each other,” Rene Esposito added.

Lou Lemmo’s food trailer is a staple of the festival. He and his family have been operating the Luigi’s trailer at the festival for 37 years.

Italian cuisine staples including cavatelli are their speciality.

“We’ve enjoyed it all these years, you meet all kinds of people,” Lemmo said.

The festival began Thursday and ends today, the day of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast.

The Italian Federation Heritage parade, accompanied by the Blue Coat band, will make their way to mass at the St. Rose church, which starts at 11 a.m. At 1 p.m., participants will have a ceremony at the cemetery to honor their ancestors and will go to the World War II memorial by Market Street to honor the veterans.

Both locals and people from out of town will line the streets for the famous Zambelli firework show, which starts at 11 p.m.

Many residents said they came to the festival for the food and to honor their family tradition.

Amber Seymour of Girard said she had gone to the festival every year with her grandmother, who passed away this year. She wanted to keep that tradition alive. She came with Francis Skinner, also of Girard, who described the food and firework show as amazing.

Myron and Rene Esposito thanked the community for supporting the festival.

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