Monday, June 29, 2009


Fiesta is over. Shadow of rain competed with this year's festivities, but could not overtake the sense of community that staggers, leaving behind a path of invisible thread--a mystery weaving, of sorts.

I still consider myself an outsider looking in, but after 11 years, St. Peter's Fiesta is familiar. I've held candles given me by tiny Italian grandmothers. I've shouted. Laughed. Stared at a sky of cast off cares and swirling confetti. I've visited Ambie's famous sausage stand and been encircled by the sweet, greasy smell of fried dough.

I've watched children call out to one another, surrounded by a sea of rocks as men crab walk out to the end of the pole, oars quietly pushed through a threat of rain, the boulevard filled with watchers and drinkers and swimmers and onlookers--looking on for sport and to catch the locals doing what the newspaper says they do best.

Some describe Fiesta as nothing more than a ridiculous, drunken party that the city has to clean up after--but with this description comes a failure to see the invisibly fine strands of community that persist in Gloucester as soulless enclaves of nothingness creep up around the country.

We've got something here, but you've got to look beyond the surface of the party to see it. For every drunken fight that gets recorded in the police notes, dozens of significant connections go quietly unnoticed. Families come together. They anticipate. They plan. They take time to catch up. They dress up--little girls with fancy white ribbons, boys in handsome sweaters and shoes. People smile. They pray. They take notice. They care.

There is no question about it as statues are carried through the streets of downtown Gloucester on the backs of boys and men preceded by prominent religious figures that Fiesta matters--not just as an excuse to party, but as a time to honor God, to honor family and those who have died, a time to honor tradition, a time to reunite and reconnect. People come out of their houses to celebrate and to mourn and to talk to one another. Strangers strike up conversations. The feeling of community is palpable.

This time of year makes me feel lucky--lucky to be living where I am, raising a family with people I love. St. Peter's Fiesta brings this out in me.

Viva. Viva. Viva San Pietro.

Additional photos here.


Gorgeous flowers again


White Bows

My favorite tuba player

St. Peter attends

The part with the confetti and balloons

Fiesta Hats



Crowd at St. Ann's/Holy Family Parish

Doors and men

Home Stretch


Owner of Banana's honors MJ and FF


Cindy said...

What a nice tribute to the Fiesta. Sometimes it takes people a long time to "get it", and some never do. But I'm glad there are those of us who didn't grow up in an Italian-American family and understand what the Fiesta means to Gloucester.
---Sharon (It was fun bumping into you each day!)

Cindy said...

Whoops, this is my daughter's email account. Guess I'm still signed in after paying a bill for her! :)

Jane said...

Hi Sharon--

Thank you for the sweet comment. I enjoyed bumping into you, too. Now...if I can only get you out onto the dance floor..... Soon enough.