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Friday, July 11, 2003

Parade Gets Westports Four-Day Italian Festival Underway

Westport’s Italian Festival attracted thousands as the four-day event kicked off Thursday night. WestportNow.com photo
Westporters disheartened over the Memorial Day parade rainout this year made up for it Thursday night with an enthusiastic welcome for the opening night parade at the annual Italian Festival. Bands played, crowds cheered, children screamed and politicians waved as the marchers made their way down Riverside Avenue and then along Saugatucks Franklin Street to the festival site at Luciano Park bordering the Metro North train tracks. Although there had been rain showers earlier in the day, by the time the parade stepped off, skies were clear and the temperature was comfortable in the 60s. Many of the units rained out of the Memorial Day parade took part in the Italian Festival march, according to parade chairman William Vornkahl. This made it one of the largest parades in the festivalҒs 20-year history. The biggest crowd was at the corner of Franklin and Charles Streets just outside Luciano Park.
Italian Festival marchers included (L-R) First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell, former Selectman Betty Lou Cummings, Selectman John Izzo, Representative Town Meeting member Michael Rea and wife Carla, and state Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard. WestportNow.com photo
Under a large American flag hanging from the fire departments ladder truck, they cheered grand marshal Bill ғCrowbar Cribari, who led the line of six bands, civic groups, classic cars, and vintage fire trucks. First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell, Selectman John Izzo, and state Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard were among the politicians who marched. Among the groups participating were the Westport WomenԒs Club, and the League of Women Voters. Westport News editor Christina Hennessy, managing editor Will Rowlands and reporter Kirk Lang held the newspapers banner aloft as they waved to the crowd. The old-time cars and trucks included a 1930 Fairfield police car, a 1953 Westport fire engine, and a shiny 1934 fire truck, restored at a cost of $90,000, which was manned by Weston volunteers. Festival organizers estimate as many as 100,000 visitors could visit the site before the event ends Sunday night. They say the festival has allowed WestportҒs Sons of Italy to distribute more than $1.5 million to local charities since 1984. The festival continues Friday 6 to 11 p.m.; Saturday noon to 11 p.m., and Sunday noon to 10 p.m. Additional information is available on the festival Web site.


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