Primavera planned at Our Lady of Grace

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Like fine wine, the annual Primavera at Our Lady of Grace Church gets better with age.

This year’s 8th Annual Primavera, which promises to be a food and wine tasting unlike any other, will be a record-setting event for the Roman Catholic Parish that’s located at 4 Lafayette St. off Greenville Avenue in Johnston.

For starters, as the parish’s popular Pastor Rev. Peter J. Gower said, “We’re going to set a new Primavera record in three different categories.”

First, Father Gower said, “We just might be honoring the oldest Rhode Island resident – Emma (Rotondo) Pezza – who is 106 years old and the daughter of the late Francesico and Carmina (Mosi) Rotondo from Pietravaitano, Italy.”

She was baptized at Holy Ghost Church on Hartford Avenue in Providence – located on the Johnston town line – back on May 7, 1911 and she married Carmine Pezza on Aug. 7, 1931 inside Our Lady of Grace Church.

So, who better than to serve as the Primavera grand marshal than Emma Pezza, who Father Gower noted will soon receive another honor at the governor’s annual Centenarian Breakfast on May 12 at The Bridge at Cherry Hill.

“We’re not sure if Emma is the oldest living Rhode Islander,” Father Gower said. “But one thing is for sure; she doesn’t look her age and we’re hoping that she holds that rare distinction.”

Mrs. Pezza has two children, Angela McCord and Julio Rotondo, six grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren. She and her husband also owned and operated C. Pezza & Son that began in 1935 and grew to unexpected heights. Emma worked as the company treasurer until 1984.

Yet another reason why OLG has chosen Pezza as this year’s grand marshal is, as Father Gower related Tuesday, “This [Primavera] is a big undertaking that requires lots and lots of planning and workers, and everyone was excited to honor Emma because of her wonderful milestone.”

With that, Father Gower announced yet another first for the 8th Annual Primavera, which is also an extension of the popular priest’s philosophy of bringing the church community together for prayer, food and fellowship.

“Mayor Polisena told me there are over 100 food-related eateries in Johnston,” Father Gower said. “Well, I’m proud to announce that we’ll have 37 of those businesses here on April 30 so that people can sample their many fine foods.”

Polisena, in fact, is a regular at the Primavera, which will run from 3 to 6 p.m. inside Fioretti Hall that will probably be filled to capacity, given the number of vendors who’ll be on hand to offer samplings of their many different foods.

“Tickets are selling quickly and we’re expecting to be sold out soon,” Joe Andreozzi, one of the many OLG dedicated volunteers who have worked with Father Gower on the Primavera, said Tuesday. “We could, however, have some tickets available at the door.”

As for Polisena, Father Gower said he’d be at the April 30 Primavera with his appetite and an award for Emma Pezza.

Likewise, WPRI-TV News Anchor Mike Montecalvo, who lives in Johnston, has agreed to serve as master of ceremonies and help honor OLG’s oldest parishioner, who also holds the distinction of being the “Queen of the Johnston Senior Center’s Nifty Nineties Club.”

This year’s Primavera will feature what Father Gower called “a garden setting and Spring Green Raffle” that will result in one lucky person taking home $1,000 in cash.

Primavera tickets are $25 each and tickets for the drawing are three for $10 and only 225 tickets will be sold for the raffle.

Andreozzi said tickets for the raffle can be purchased after all OLG masses or at the rectory or even by calling 231-2220.

So, it’s countdown to excitement and eats for the 8th Annual OLG Primavera, that will also feature Italian music, a penny social raffle and door prizes all in a spring green setting.

“Our parishioners look forward to all the different vendors that arrive, sharing their foods, drinks and stories about their particular restaurant,” Father Gower said. “It is a great opportunity for all the people of the parish, their friends and neighbors, to come to know about the wonderful establishments we have in Johnston and neighboring area. We are grateful that people will once again be part of this great event.”

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