The St. Theresa parish feast will be held once again this year, with carnival-style rides, games and family fun on St. Theresa Avenue in Pelham Bay.
The annual summer block party will run the full length of St. Theresa Avenue from Westchester Avenue to the Hutchinson River Parkway service road every evening from Wednesday, July 22 to Sunday, July 26.
This year’s theme is simply ‘Welcome,’ with the parish volunteers wearing t-shirts that say that word in many different languages, a reflection of the diverse Pelham Bay community.
The theme is a reminder that all are welcome in the church’s fellowship, said feast committee member Antonia Cipollone-Bruno. It is a community-building event, she added.
“It reminds people that the community is important – that it is still important to remember the neighborhood, where you are from and to take pride in where you live,” she said.
The feast will open on Wednesday with a prayer written by a young person from the parish, followed by a procession of children. Another procession will take place on Sunday.
It features nightly live entertainment, rides, games and food, said Josephine Fanelli, principal of St. Theresa School. The event, now in its 19th year, is a major source of funding for the parish’s operations, she said.
“The feast is not only a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together, but the proceeds of the feasts also help run the parish,” said Fanelli.
It also serves as spiritual enrichment for Catholics, she said, and includes masses, adorations and a concert featuring both the church’s choir and those of neighboring parishes, she said.
Parade committee member Michele Torrioni said that she has personally seen heartwarming reunions at the feast, adding she was touched last year when she witnessed a spontaneous line dance form with random feast-goers who were enjoying a live band’s performance.
“This is something that really brings the community, and people who may not see each other every day, together,” she said.
This year is the first year that Msgr. Thomas Derivan, St. Theresa’s pastor, will be at the helm of the feast, as its founder Fr. Robert Grippo was reassigned to another parish in 2014 after deacdes of service.
The feast grew under Fr. Grippo from a one-day block event into the five-day festival that it is today, said Fanelli, adding that it was Father Grippo’s vision that made the feast possible.
According to the feast committee, the five days of fun will also feature health screenings, pictures with costumed characters, and an NYPD rock-climbing wall.
The feast committee also stated that it would continue to host members of a local Association for the Help of Retarded Children program, treating them to an afternoon of food, rides and games.
The members of the program will also take home a goodie bag, full of zeppoles, and other Italian delights.