Feast of St. Rocco celebration in Malden

... a festival of faith and friendship

by Natalie Thomson

It took two days and three nights to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Feast of St. Rocco in Malden's Edgeworth section. By August 6, 7, and 8, the lights and decorations had been strung between the lamp posts on Pearl Street in front of St. Peter's church and the surrounding homes. Al Martino, famous singer from the '40s, sat in a nearby kitchen while waiting to go on the newly built outdoor stage (and WOW them) on Saturday night.

Church members made and sold delicious pizzafritta  while the booths across the street produced homemade cannole, braziole, and Italian et cetera to enjoy while strolling, pushing grandchildren's carriages and socializing with every familiar face.

An empty houselot was found to erect the tall, greased pole which a core of young neighborhood men climbed by inches and slid down and re-climbed until they produced a shaky pillar of slippery and determined males. The top one retrieved the bag of money that was tied to the peak of the pole.

On Sunday, the yards were filled with friends and relatives and groaning tables of Italian delicacies from recipes now passed down to the fourth generation (or more) within each family. Between the roast lamb, pasta, home grown salads, more et cetera, and before the desserts were served, the families, friends and followers went to the front porches and sidewalks of Pearl Street.

The band, after playing the American and Italian national anthems, started up the street with gusto. Two friendly priests, smiling at all the familiar faces, led the procession of parishioners. The church members and neighborhood fathers wheeled a platform on which stood the statue of St. Rocco from the church sanctuary. It was probably before (or a short while after) the turn of the 14th century that he had cared for and cured people in Rome of The Plague. That gala day in Malden, with a quiet wave of love and loyalty, the onlookers left their sidewalk posts and presented money to be pinned onto the ribbon streamers that covered the statue's robe.

Esther Carducci, of the second Cagno generation, slowed down and shared hostessing duties with her son, Al and his wife, Vera. (His sister, Susan, was shown earlier in the parade with her two cousins, Patty McSweeney and Terri Lake.)

Another Carducci son, Jim, and his daughter, Samantha, came home for the holiday carrying gourmet desserts made by his wife, Ina. Did daughter Rachel help? Albert's old friends and some co-workers return annually from other towns.

The band played in the distance as they marched through the neighborhood streets. The backyard conversation heightened its volume but the concentration of the chess players was undisturbed. The neighborhood had presented another vibrant celebration of St. Rocco's Day for everyone, especially the young and happy family friend, Max Zavodskov...who will remember it all for years to come.

Sept. 3, 2004

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