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St. John’s observes Boar’s Head feast

Marking the Epiphany

Walter Baber of Struthers, left, and Robert Tullio of Boardman carry the boar's head through the St. John Episcopal Church in Youngstown.

YOUNGSTOWN — For the past 59 years, members of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Youngstown have come together to present the annual popular holiday presentation of the Boar’s Head and Yule Log.

The church held two performances Sunday, which included participants of all ages.

Meg Silver of Poland, director of the performance since 2004, said, “This is a unique tradition we have held at the church for 59 years. Not many churches in this area do this. People are drawn to this because of the celebration of Epiphany.”

Silver said the entire congregation takes part in the event in some way.

“It really is all hands on deck for anyone associated with St. John’s. Everyone helps do something. It has become a part of what this church is all about. My son when he was 1 started as a little yule log page and today he is 20 and has done almost every role,” she said.

Walter Baber of Struthers said he has been carrying the boar’s head through the church for the past 15 years.

“I think they needed to find someone of the right height to be able to do this. I guess I am called one of the boar’s head attendants,” Baber said.

His son, Brennan Baber, started as a young child as a yule log page and then the king’s page carrying the king’s robe behind him, and this year a woodsmen’s pushing the yule log. The Baber family’s dog, “Loki” was also in the program accompanying the huntsmen.

Tani Spielberg of Boardman said her children have also grown up through the program, with her daughter starting as a sprite and her son a yule log page and later a shepherd.

“They love being part of this and playing different parts,” she said.

Sveva Ceccarani, 7, of Youngstown, was this year’s sprite, getting to light the Rev. Gayle Cantinella’s candle, which is considered a very important part.

“I liked carrying the candle into the church,” she said.

Silver said she sends out postcards at the end of October asking people to take part and what roles they would like to perform.

“There is a part for everyone. Many of the adults here can tell you what parts they had when they were children,” Cantinella said.

Kevin Elliott of Poland, who this year was one of the beefeaters, said he has participated since 1968.

Sean Hare of Boardman this year was the chef and his son, Emerson Hare, 13, was helping out as a waif since they came up short.

“When you do this for many years, you get to try all the parts,” Sean Hare said.

Cantinella said she is always impressed by the well attended performances.

“They come here to hear beautiful music and to see a beautiful performance,” she said.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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