The traditional Italian Festival comes to town again

The 38th Annual Italian Festival promotes cultural diversity for all

Autumn Moon, Staff Writer

The 38th annual Italian Festival, which was held at Hempstead Beach Park, was held from Sept. 6-10.  Every year, the festival attracts waves of people from all around the county to enjoy the amusements and attractions.

The Italian Fest is a time-honored Long Island tradition, and it’s the largest and oldest festival of its kind in all of Nassau County.

A variety of rides were offered at the festival by Blue Sky Amusements, including high swings, the zipper, the gravitation, and a fun house.  In addition to those rides, there were plenty of games for people of all ages to enjoy. Some people even won goldfish as prizes.

There was also live entertainment and a dance floor for attendees to enjoy.   Those who were lucky enough to visit the festival on Saturday night witnessed a spectacular display of fireworks.  

“The fireworks added to the whole celebratory feeling of the night.  It’s really cool that our town does stuff like this,” said junior Riley Kerin.  

The festival provided a famous pasta tent with homemade Italian favorites, as well as carnival snacks at various ethnic food vendors located around the festival.   Vendors served pasta with meat sauce, pizza, meatball heros, and other favorites.

“The food is always so good and there are so many choices,” said senior Tori Kesselman.  

The Italian Festival also doubles as a charity fundraiser, as a percentage of the proceeds from the festival helps raise money for foundations like Cancer Care, Port Senior Center, and Alzheimer’s Foundation.   

The yearly event provides many opportunities for the community of Port Washington to come together and spend time appreciating a diversity of cultures.  The Italian Festival also has a rich history behind it.  Port Washington’s Italian community began celebrating this feast at the start of the 20th century, and it was the first celebration to provide ethnic food and music, as well as activities such as singing and greased pole climbing.  

Though the feasts temporarily ceased during the struggles of the Great Depression, they began again in 1979 and have continued to this day..  

“I went to the Italian Fest a few years ago, but coming back this year it’s really grown and become a town event.  There were a lot more rides to go on and it felt a lot bigger,” said junior Joe Clark.