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Advocate

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Malden today, tomorrow and yesterday – Saint Rocco – August 12-14

Picked up pieces while waiting for the highlight of the Malden summer social calendar, the Grande Festa in Honor of San Rocco…

  • This year the Feast of Saint Rocco will take place from Friday, August 12 through Sunday, August 14. By North End standards the Pearl Street festa is a small one but has an unusually big heart. And a long history. It was started 92 years ago to help the poor Italian immigrants of Edgeworth stay warm in the winter, eat healthy in the summer and stay spiritually connected all year round (as well as drunk for three straight days in August).
  • Fact: The only time residents from Edgeworth in Ward 2 check the weather report is the week prior to the Saint Rocco Feast.
  • Speaking of the Feast, Dom Fermano was at one of the San Rock committee meetings in mid-June. He looks great but when you marry as well as Dom did, it’s easy not to look your age. Dom has done more good things in the last 24 hours than most politicians do in their entire careers. Fact! Dom is one of those guys, an unsung hero if I may ramble on, who has made Malden a fabulous place to live in 2022. He’s been involved with the Feast his whole life. He even goes back to the day when a portion of the weekend’s entertainment was the placing of a white bed sheet across Pearl Street with the 1943 movie “The Song of Bernadette” showing in a loop for the evening. True story.
  • The Feast was not the same last year without Jimmy Palermo. I loved that man. We all loved that man. Here is what I wrote in 2020 for our Jimmy Palermo: “Where have you gone Jimmy Palermo, Edgeworth turns its lonely eyes to you…Jimmy, I bet you had no idea how much you were loved in your neighborhood. And beyond. You would be embarrassed by all the attention, whether you believed it was deserved, or not. Born into that generation where selflessness, a strong work ethic, and fierce devotion to family were ingrained in your DNA. Handed down from your grandfather to your father to yourself to your wonderful children. We are a poorer country, my friend, whenever we lose another of your great generation. Jimmy had swagger. Jimmy had self-confidence. Jimmy had serious game! I really, really miss his presence.”
  • The spirit of the late Tony Pisaturo will be hovering over the Feast this year. His family will honor him. We will honor him. The Italian American Band of Lawrence and the Procession will make a special stop at his stoop on Pearl to show their respect for him. It won’t be the same this year, but we’ll toast this special man all weekend long anyway.
  • Speaking of the procession, so sad to see the Sunday afternoon Procession route, which once numbered most of the streets in Edgeworth, down to a scant few. Families (such as the Pitts, the Goodwins, Gambys, Crowes, Trabuccos, Pisaturos, Toccos, Palermos, Spadaforas, Scibellis) make hard decisions. As their parents age or pass on, as the neighborhood demographically changes, the Procession route adjusts organically, and inevitably.
  • Predictions for the Saint Rocco Weekend “10th Player Award” are coming in fast and furious. Top of the list are Peter Giuliano, fried dough guy John Wood and Animal Control Officer Kevin Alkins (as always) followed closely by that old warhorse, Billy “President for Life” Settemio.
  • The entertainment this year is, as always, outstanding! On Sunday your musical sensibilities will be pleasantly assaulted with Malden’s newest fan favorites “Heart Attack Ack Ack Ack Ack Ack” bringing the best of Billy Joel right to your doorstep.
  • Opening the weekend on Friday night (7-11) is one of the hardest working bands on the North Shore, the dance band WildFire. If you’ve ever seen them at Capone’s, Polcari’s, Focaccia’s, Whippersnappers, Scoreboard Bar & Grill or Stonewood Tavern, you know what I am talking about. From AC/DC to Journey, from Lady Gaga to Shakira, to some of the all-time R&B greats, you won’t be disappointed with their set list no matter your taste in music.
  • Saturday night will be another really big shew. For the first time in Saint Rock history, we have a night of dueling pianos. “Capitana Dueling Pianos” will send you home Saturday night with a song in your heart and a smile on your face (visiting Albert’s Beer Garden frequently this night will enhance that effect). What exactly is “dueling pianos” and what should you expect, you may be asking. Dueling pianos is described as a high-energy, interactive show that actually puts you in charge of the set list! The show is all-request, and sing-alongs are highly encouraged. Audience members can also “outbid” each other to get their songs played faster. Davina Yannetty, Ricky Lauria and Neil Haven will be taking your song requests all Saturday evening. Prepare to hear music you love, belt your heart out and have the time of your life. Guaranteed! Have I ever lied to you or fed you fake news? Don’t answer that, Pete Robinson. My prediction for the night – Kenny Coye, Joe Bagz, Hoss Condon, Louie Yanakopoulos and Dana Brown will be singing show tunes all the way home! Go to YouTube and search for Davina – a dynamic performer sure to bring delight into your “Groundhog Day” lives.
  • The fun continues on Sunday afternoon for a third straight day (right after the Procession)! Old friend Steve Savio brings his band Sea Breeze, one of the premier Italian American show bands this side of the North End, back to the gritty streets of Malden once again. Sea Breeze perform everything – from Broadway hits to Italian favorites to American standards to popular songs – and regularly play at Italian feasts in New York, Boston’s North End and East Boston, as well as other Italian fests throughout Massachusetts. Request “Al di là,” the Italian ballad made famous by Jerry Vale; you will not be disappointed. Steve’s chops give Jerry’s a run for his money.
  • Stay tuned as additional Saint Rock 2022 news unfolds. As Animal Control Big Boss Man, Kevin “The Old Ranger” Alkins always says, “Don’t stand around! Buy a round!” Words to live by as you spend time in the “Albert & Franny Spadafora Beer Garden” this August 12, 13 and 14.
  • Watts Street’s Peter Caso will be in attendance (short walk from Watts). Who’s better than Pete Caso and his Facebook page “All About Malden?!” Correct, nobody. Pete has over six thousand rabid followers who now call him friend on Facebook with no end of friends in sight. His posts are informative and timely. He keeps his page clean with no fake news, no dirty talk or ugly, divisive politics. And at dinner time his supper is the envy of Malden! So, as Pete would say, “congrats to you, Pete” on a fabulous page. Peter, some unsolicited advice: You may have to set up your own stand for autograph and picture seekers; your fan club grows with each FB post.

As Peter Falk’s iconic TV character “Columbo” would say, “Just one more thing, sir” – this year’s Saint Rocco Feast is the 92nd year Malden takes to Pearl Street and celebrates. If you are a regular attendee, we look forward to seeing you back. If you are one of those people on the fence or haven’t graced us with your presence in some time, this is the year to reappear. Newcomers to Malden – we welcome you with open arms! The San Rock Festa was the original multicultural event. Nothing has changed. Make your presence known! Come by, even for one night. Make new friends or get reacquainted with old ones. Either way, good times await you at this year’s Festa! The 92nd Annual Feast of St. Rocco starts Friday night, Aug. 12 at 6. I hope to see you all there. Cent’anni.

Postscript: Recently retired Malden Police Chief Kevin Molis will spend most of Saint Rocco weekend on Pearl Street enjoying his childhood neighborhood block party: “From the perspective of being the (former) Malden Police Chief and still a ‘Kid from Edgeworth’ what stands out for me that weekend is what Saint Rocco’s says about who we are as a city. Saint Rocco’s represents a group of Italian immigrants coming to America and to Edgeworth and bringing with them their rich culture and customs, their proud traditions and their strong faith and not keeping it for themselves but offering and sharing it with others. My own ancestors on my mother’s side had made a similar journey from Ireland to Edgeworth. Saint Rocco’s was born out of those proud Italian immigrants remembering where they were from and keeping that spirit alive in their new home. But what stood out for me as the Malden Police Chief was that on that same weekend, I had the joy, honor, and privilege to attend a Caribbean Festival at Lincoln Commons and to stand among a large gathering of Muslims as they prayed during a Holy Day called Eid al- Adha. Each and every day there are tremendous examples of people from all over the world who have chosen Malden to be their home, just like those proud Italian immigrants did so many years ago.”

Chief Molis continued: “Saint Rocco’s shows what Malden has been, what it is, and what it will always be… the best place to live, work, worship, and to raise a family! And with that said, the best place to be a Police Chief.”

Saint Rocco pilgrims

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