Ocean Township Mayor Chris Siciliano made a guest appearance with Donny Riccio of the Mama’s Boy band at the Italian American Association festival over the weekend.
By WILLIAM CLARK
The Ocean Township Italian American Association held its most successful festival ever last week from Aug. 11 to 14 in Joe Palaia Park.
“I have to say the weather cooperated and it was the most successful fest we’ve ever had,” Festival Chairman Nick Romagnoli said. “Not too hot, not too cold.”
Between eighty and one hundred thousand people were estimated to come through the festival gates. Each was treated to international food options, games, rides and a fireworks display on Friday evening.
Lucky winners of 50/50 raffles were called daily including taking home half of the $55,400 Sunday grand jackpot, double the largest ever according to Romagnoli.
Romagnoli said that all of the vendors did well and are planning to come back next year. Several were from a distance away including Boston, MA and Knoxville, TN. Festival sponsor and cooking demonstration host Galbani Cheese traveled from Buffalo, NY to set up shop at the Jersey Shore for almost a week.
The police department was credited with helping move thousands of people and cars through the grounds efficiently and safely.
“They moved people in and out with ease,” Romagnoli said.
Bands and performers took the stage each of the nights to entertain the crowd. One vendor had performers that have recently been on Broadway productions. Mayor Chris Siciliano even got into the action by jumping on stage Saturday night with the band Mama’s Boy.
“We had a great time!” Siciliano said.
Guests took in the acts as they enjoyed beer and wine from the Oakhurst and Wanamassa Fire Departments and Italian staples from the Italian American Club.
“We sold out of sausage this year!” Romagnoli said of the club’s menu.
As much effort goes into the festival, it breaks down quickly once it is over. Romagnoli said that just a few trucks were left by Tuesday afternoon. Otherwise, the park is back to its normal state.
Next week, the club will break down how this year went overall and then in November the planning begins for next year.
But Romagnoli said there’s one lesson that stands out immediately: “Pray for good weather!”