St. Paul's Italian festival gives volunteers a taste of the past

"Little Italy" isn't quite the same neighborhood it was when 86-year old John Letterio grew up.
"You had a lot of friends. I guess maybe in some respects that's one of the things that's missing. The neighborhoods really don't have that kind of atmosphere anymore," said Letterio, a volunteer at the St. Paul's Italian Festival. 
But for him, St. Paul's Italian Festival salvages what's left of his old community. 
People from each corner put on new hats, doing their part to keep the church up and running. 

"It's just a wonderful weekend. I'm just honored to be here. I'm gunna be the guy that's gunna be cleaning the tables. That's all I wanna do tonight," said Thomas Carney, a district judge.

Festivals like this one help the parish continue to serve the community, one dish at a time.
"Everything we make here is home made. Me personally, I think a lot of people come back because it's like a reunion," said Ronald DeVecchio, the festival chairman. 
That's how this small community raises around 65 percent of the church's annual funds in one event. 
DiVecchio said even people who've left Erie's Italian quarter give what they can during the festival.
"They wanna know if you can bring Little Italy back. You can't, because the people who made up Little Italy -- they're dead," said DiVecchio. 
The same, no. But, volunteers said St. Paul's Festival gives the neighborhood hope for the years ahead. 
"We're trying to spread that in the community so we can all grow in love and our parish. Jesus pleases. Let's spread it around," Carney said. 


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