NEW CASTLE —
The annual Italian Festival returned this weekend to Cascade Park.
Traditional Italian and fair foods, as well as arts and crafts, carnival games, T-shirt booths and souvenir stands, lined the midway. Classic Italian music filled the park as Italian singers and bands took to the stage and sang and played a variety of styles.
Crowds filled the grassy area to listen to the bands while enjoying their cavatelli and meatballs, sausage sandwiches, pizza and cannolis. A small group even danced to the various artists’ music.
Of course, no trip to Cascade Park or the Italian Festival would be complete without the traditional Italian ice. Kids from ages 1 to 100 sat down to enjoy the sweet, icy treat that has been a park favorite for decades.
Young and old wandered the midway, carrying stuffed animals they had won at the dart and ball-throwing games, or blow-ups they snagged at the fish pond. One booth featured animal marionettes, many of which were seen walking around with their new owners. Another booth featured red, white and green beads with the Italian flag that many wore around their necks.
The face painting booth was a favorite of the kids, of course. A steady stream of children lined up for designs ranging from the Italian or American flags to full face camo and superhero designs for some of the boys.
Several booths offered T-shirts featuring the Italian Festival logo and other designs highlighting the Italian heritage, and many visitors were sporting these before they left.
One highlight of the event was the morra tournament, which left spectators in awe over the large group of men playing the raucous and loud traditional Italian game.
According to Jim Hiler, organizer of the tournament, “Morra is a game not too unlike rock, scissors, paper.” He explained that this version features mostly men of all ages as they loudly try to guess the total number of fingers both contestants will show. The Italian Festival tournament was part of an area league that Hiler and others say is the only morra league in the world.
As morning became afternoon, and afternoon drifted into evening, skies grew bright and sunny, and beautiful weather cooperated with the event, crowds grew larger throughout the day. Parking lots filled and lines at the booths became the norm. Lots of smiles, and laughter filled the air and Cascade Park seemed to overflow with “amore.”
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