Your Family Guide to
North End Feasts BY HEATHER KEMPSKIE, PHOTOS BY MATT CONTI AND JEFF TAMAGINI
teeped in tradition and coordinated by hundreds of devoted volunteers wishing to honor their Italian lineage, Boston’s North End festivals are the ultimate in cultural street parties. Visitors from around the world will head to the city’s “Little Italy” — a 1-squaremile waterfront community — this summer to munch on cannoli, enjoy entertainment under the stars, and partake in centuries-old processions down the street. “The North End is one of Boston’s oldest residential communities,” says Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “The longstanding traditions hosted by the people of the North End and the City of Boston make for an exciting, 14 AUGUST2015
memorable, experience, welcoming residents and visitors to enjoy all this community has to offer. ‘Northenders’ have a strong sense of pride that is seen across every street and alleyway. As Mayor, I love all of Boston’s neighborhoods, and am proud that the North End keeps its festivals going year after year. It will continue to inspire a strong sense of community in many generations to come.” In the 1860s, the first Italians arrived in the North End, which at that time was a predominantly Jewish, Irish, and Portuguese neighborhood. New immigrants sought support and help from loved ones already settled, and the area quickly took on the look and feel of the
regions from which they came, including Sicily, Milan, Naples, and Genoa. By 1930, the North End was almost 100% Italian. Domenic Strazzullo, a North End native and president of The Fisherman’s Club, says residents take pride in carefully preserving the traditions of their homeland, including honoring Catholic patron saints with festivals during the summer months. “I grew up in the North End, my father was a member of another North End society, and since I was 16 I was going to meetings,” he says. “My grandfather was a member of The Fisherman’s Club and I’m walking in his footsteps.” The Fisherman’s Feast — held Aug.
13-16 — is the oldest continuously running Italian festival. And, according to Strazzullo, one of the most family-friendly ones, too. “There is something for everyone. We have over 80 street vendors with all types of cultural food including Italian, Mexican, you name it,” he says. “We have kiddie land with games and rides, and on the other end of the street there are wine tents and beer gardens. And on Sunday, we host kid-friendly activities like watermelon-eating contests and hacky sack competitions.” The event culminates with the procession of the Madonna through the streets of the North End and the Flight of the Angel, in which a young girl, nominated by the society, dress-