St. Roch’s Feast returns on Wednesday

Photo of Ken Borsuk

GREENWICH — The St. Roch Feast returns Wednesday night, with a few unique challenges this year. But organizers say nothing can stop the popular annual event.

The street festival, as always, will celebrate the St. Roch Parish and Chickahominy community, though this year it will have to do it around ongoing construction at Hamilton Avenue School’s garage.

“The construction just means we’re going to be more compacted,” feast committee member Jackie Budkins said Monday. “We’re still going to have rides and games and entertainment and our wine and beer garden and all our food.”

Offerings that have become traditions at the feast, such as steak, sausage and peppers and, of course, the pizza fritta, will all still be on the menu.

“It will feel like an old fashioned street fair more than ever this year,” Budkins said. “We’re making much more use of the street.”

The festival will run Wednesday-Friday from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Saturday until 11 p.m.

The feast celebrates the Italian immigrants who settled into Chickahominy and the generations of their families who have lived there. Many hailed from the Italian town of Morra De Sanctis, of which St. Roch, a French man who made a pilgrimage to Rome to care for those stricken by a plague, was the patron saint.

The Italians who came to Chickahominy, Byram and Port Chester founded the Societa Morresa di San Rocco, a mutual aid society more commonly known in town as The Morese Society, and began gathering in August to celebrate St. Roch.

Between 300 and 500 people are expected each night of the feast, which will feature DJ Paul from James Daniel Music on Wednesday and DJ Francesco Castiglione on Thursday, and the bands The Bookends and The Breakers on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

There will be rides and a raffle with top prizes being a new Fiat 500L and a $3,000 American Express gift card.

“It’s such a great way to get the whole community together,” Budkins said. “This isn’t just for Italians. It’s for everyone who likes fun and good food and good times.”

While the feast has become a local tradition for many in the community, it is a first for a new figure in the church. The Rev. Arthur Mollenhauer took over as pastor of the church on June 30. This will be his first St. Roch Feast.

“I’m excited,” Mollenhauer said, noting he had seen similar events in his past years at St. Mary Church in Stamford. “I’m looking forward to getting to know the people of the town and getting to work with our parishioners and interacting with the neighbors. I hope to be able to reach out to as many people as I can.”

Last month the town approved road closures for the feast. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, road closures at St. Roch Avenue at Alexander Street and St. Roch Avenue at Hamilton Avenue will go into effect at 5 p.m. On Saturday, they will go into effect at 4 p.m.

Each night the roads will reopen at 11 p.m. The Greenwich Police Department will be on hand each night to direct traffic.

A shuttle service will be offered to and from a satellite parking location at 500 West Putnam Avenue.

As is custom, the feast will be capped off by a procession honoring St. Roch through the streets of Chickahominy. The march will begin at 9 a.m. and be followed by an Italian mass at noon at the church.

The feast, which raises money for the church, remains a volunteer undertaking.

“We love to see people having a great time and knowing that this is all going to benefit our church,” Budkins said. “That’s what makes us want to do it every year.”

kborsuk@scni.com