The sun is shining for the Italian Festa 2022

The 70th anniversary of the Dante Club was celebrated with a weekend-long evening of food, music and dancing

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The parking lot next to the Porcupine Dante Club was full Friday night for the Festa Italiana. The sun was shining as around 200 guests gathered around tables under spacious white tents. They lined up for beer, pizza and Italian sausage on a bun.

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The event brought together young and old to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Dante Clube anniversary, a major step for the cultural institution.

Organizer Chris Loreto had a good problem on his hands: he ran out of Francesco’s pizza, selling 20 in the first hour. Rob Racini and Rory MacKenzie made sure there were plenty of club signature sausages on the BBQ to serve on a bun and keep the crowd happy.

Loreto was delighted with the turnout, for which he had ordered 200 chairs because the previous Parking Lot Party two years ago had standing room only.

Paul Sebalj played his usual 60s, 70s and 80s pop and rock set, but the real crowd pleaser was when he pulled out his accordion, a form of entertainment most appropriate at an Italian Festa.

On Saturday night, 145 Dante Club members and their friends and families put on their finest yarns for the highly anticipated 70e Anniversary gala.

Rosario Clausi, the club’s former secretary, opened the evening with a quick trip through the club’s history, while his son and club vice-president, Louis Clausi, played a slide show he had assembled of photos from era and newspaper clippings.

Both father and son are amateur historians.

“Many have come here because they heard the streets were lined with gold, and they were.” Rosario said, referring to Italians who came mostly after World War II to work in the mines, forests and for the railroad.

He then recounted how Sam Rizutto, the club’s current chairman, ushered in a new era of prosperity when he suggested the club focus on fundraising by cooking Italian food.

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An elegant six-course meal was served which began with risotto and a seafood platter, and ended with a large chocolate tartuffo and raspberry dessert.

The dinner-show format had singer-songwriter Andrea Ramolo performing his confessional to original mid-tempo tunes mixed with a few contemporary Italian songs depending on the theme.

The well-appointed Jason Porritt crafted four original cocktails especially for the evening, including “The Dante”, spiced rum with pineapple and lime juice, honey, black pepper syrup and Prosecco. Rolling clouds of dry ice kept the concoction cold throughout the evening. Porritt teaches cooking classes at Collège Boréal, a pandemic passion linchpin for the former physiotherapist.

The parking lot of the Dante Club was packed again all Sunday afternoon for the Festa Italiana Street Party.

The Dante Club Choir, The Timmins Big Band, The Nancy Floreani Dancers and The Italian Stallions (Hector Ciccone on accordion and Dominic Colantonio on vocals) entertained the crowd all afternoon, while the children enjoyed the gyroscope, rock wall, animal rides and haunted places. maze with Climb n’ Fun across the street.

The club sold 1,600 food tickets for porchetta and sausage sandwiches, fried pizza and lamb skewers with arrosticini.

“Every animal known to man that we cooked, put in a sandwich and you ate it all,” Loreto said.

They sold 1,600 food tickets and were sold out by the end of the day. Holly Bouvier won a $1,600 Traeger BBQ donated by J&B Cycle and Marine.

Miraculously, the weather cooperated despite storm warnings. “There was a 90% chance of rain, but all the Italians got down on their knees and prayed to God,” said Hector Ciccone.

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