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Pass the cannoli: Italian Festival lures crowds to Hertel

Dave DeLuca

Cannolis, meatballs, sausage and other Italian food will be hot commodities on Hertel Avenue through Sunday.

The annual Galbani Italian Heritage Festival kicked off Thursday as restaurants, bakeries and other street stands lined Hertel between Delaware and Colvin avenues for the second-largest Italian street festival in the country. 

The festival turns into a family affair featuring dedicated vendors who have been coming to the Italian Festival since it was on Connecticut Street back in the 1970s. Pam DiPalma, owner of Gino’s Bakery on Kenmore Avenue, runs her stand with her sister, niece and nephews.

“Part of it is just to bring the family back together,” DiPalma said. “It’s a time when you see all your family and friends. Obviously the culture has changed through the years, but there’s not too many people who don’t Italian food. Whether it’s pizza, cannolis, or whatever.”

While food usually takes center stage, the festival also features live music, heritage events, cooking demonstrations and Italian games.

The festival has been on Hertel for 27 years, but some festival fans like Tom Carlo can’t quite pinpoint how many years they’ve been attending the traditional event. It dates back to when the festival was still held on Connecticut Street.

“I miss it on Connecticut Street,” Carlo said. “But it’s still great to have it... I love seeing the old pictures of the West Side, from the turn of the century and even 50s. More history of the old West Side and more history of the Italian-American culture would be very good here. That’s what I miss.”

The Festival runs through Sunday and goes from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m each day.

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