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Sons of Italy® Releases 2005 Festival Directory

New York
81
New Jersey
61
Pennsylvania
50
Illinois
35
Massachusetts
31
California
24
Ohio
21
Connecticut
20
Rhode Island
12
Delaware
5
Florida
5
Texas
5
Wisconsin
4
Colorado
4
Kentucky
4
Maryland
4
Washington State
3
Alabama
3
West Virginia
3
Louisiana
2
Nebraska
2
Oregon
2
Virginia
2
District of Columbia
1
Iowa
1
Indiana
1
Maine
1
Missouri
1
Nevada
1
South Carolina
1
Michigan
1
Utah
1
Total
392

Press Contact: Kylie Cafiero, (202) 547-2900 kcafiero@osia.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. - April 1, 2005 A free directory of nearly 400 annual Italian American festivals in the United States is now available through the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the biggest and oldest national organization for men and women of Italian heritage in the United States.

The Sons of Italy® 2005 Italian Festival Directory lists 392 festivals in 31 states and the District of Columbia that are held between February and December annually. The directory supplies each festival's name, month it is held, city, state and contact information. It is 30 pages long and is based on information about festivals held by Sons of Italy® chapters as well as on the research of Paul Porcelli, an expert on Italian American festivals.

The early Italian immigrants brought the custom of honoring saints with outdoor ceremonies to America more than 100 years ago. The festivals vary in size and character. Some consist of only the saint's statue, a band and a procession, while others are colossal celebrations that last several days and include symphonic bands, entertainers, food stands, rides and fireworks. A familiar sight at most festivals is the saint's statue covered with money or jewelry, which is later donated to the local church or saint's society.

The five states with the most festivals are: New York (81), New Jersey (61), Pennsylvania (50), Illinois (35) and Massachusetts (31). Other states with significant numbers of festivals include California (24), Ohio (21), Connecticut (20) and Rhode Island (12).

Italian festivals are held coast to coast, including Maine, Alabama, Wisconsin, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Nevada, Washington State and Texas. [See state-by-state tally.]

According to Porcelli, the oldest festival is believed to be the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Hammonton, N.J., which this year celebrates its 129th anniversary in July. The biggest festival is the Feast of San Gennaro held every September in New York City, which attracts about one million people. Other large festivals are in Milwaukee ("Festa Italiana" in July) and Clarksburg, W.V. (the Italian Heritage Festival in August).

Some festivals include such traditional events as the Flight of the Angels (the Feast of the Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca in Boston, in August; the Feast of Our Lady of Laurentana in Berwyn, Ill., in September), the Greased Pole Contest (the Feast of St. Peter in Gloucester, Mass., in June; the Feast of Saint Rocco in Malden, Mass., in August), and the Dance of the Lily, in which about 100 men carry a five-ton platform through the streets for hours (in Brooklyn, East Harlem and Massapequa, N.Y., in June and July).

The Sons of Italy® directory is free. It can be found on the OSIA Web site at www.osia.org/public/festivals.asp. For a printed copy, send a large (9" x 12"), self-addressed envelope with $1.29 in stamps on it to:

Sons of Italy® Festival Directory

219 E Street NE

Washington, DC 20002

Sorry. No telephone or fax orders.

To add your festival to next year's directory, please contact OSIA headquarters in Washington by mail at the above address or by fax (202/547-1492) or e-mail: kcafiero@osia.org. No telephone calls, please. Send the name of the festival, month held, city, state and a contact person or organization with a telephone number and/or email address. Deadline for submissions: January 31, 2006.

Established in 1905, OSIA works at the community, national and international level to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 26 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.