St. Rocco feast set for food and fun in the sun

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Excitement is building, and people like John Ricci and Richard Montella have begun the countdown for one of Rhode Island’s most cherished summertime traditions, the annual Saint Rocco’s Church Feast and Festival in Johnston.

Although the fun, food and fireworks for what has become a Rite of August and is more than a century old won’t begin until Thursday, Aug. 16 and continue through Sunday, Aug. 19 at Festival Field off Atwood Avenue in Johnston, Saint Rocco’s festival will actually begin Monday, August 13 and continue to Wednesday, August 15, with its important religious masses.

“We’ll have a Triduum to Saint Rocco, Saint of the sick,” Ricci, the parish’s elder statesman who shares the event’s co-chairmanship with Richard Montella, announced earlier this week. “We’ll have a special mass each of those three evenings beginning at 7 o’clock in the church.”

Ricci, who has never missed the feast and festival in his countless years as a proud parishioner of St. Rocco’s Church, said each of the Triduums would be preached by a different priest.

Rev. Phillip J. Dufour will preach on Monday, August 13 with Rev. Nathan J. Ricci performing Tuesday’s rite while Rev. Michael J.S. Bruno will complete those Triduums on Wednesday.

One of the feast and festival’s annual highlights will be held on Sunday, August 19 when Saint Rocco’s Pastor Rev. Angelo Carusi will celebrate a solemn mass and serve as homilist at 11 o’clock. The mass will be followed by the always-colorful religious procession with the Statute of Saint Rocco being carried through the streets.

The American and Italian flags and banners have been hung in the St. Francis Memorial Garden and around the parish grounds and the “Big Top” – a huge tent that measures approximately 120 feet long and 90 feet wide and houses a variety of food and raffle booths – is awaiting the hundreds of visitors who’ll take in the annual feast and festival.

“Now,” as Montella said with a smile on his face and a slight concern in his voice, “all we need is four great days of weather.”

The feast and festival hours, he announced, are: Thursday, August 16 to Saturday, August 18, 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday, 1:30 to 10 p.m.

In keeping with tradition, there will be a carnival set up on the parish grounds and people will have a chance to win the festival raffle’s Grand Prize, a 2018 Lincoln MKC for two years and 21,000 miles.

The second and third prize in this year’s raffle will be $1,500 and $1,000.

“We’ll have our delicious food booths,” Ricci said, noting that doughboys as well as many baked goods will also be on sale. “There will be a beer garden, special music nightly, games and of course the annual fireworks display Saturday night.”

Ricci als wanted it known, “Our parish is proud to present this annual feast and festival; we have a host of dedicated volunteers who make it all possible. We’re looking forward to another successful event.”

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