St. Peter's Fiesta in Gloucester
St. Peter’s Fiesta, Gloucester’s great annual Catholic-Italian-fishing-drinking festival, is one of my favorite events of year. People parade through the streets carrying statues of saints and shouting blessings. Men dress up like women and clowns and try to step across a horizontal, greased telephone pole to grab a flag off the end. And it is the city’s great homecoming, as friends and family return to Gloucester for the occasion.
The festival ended on Sunday, June 28. I keep thinking about Fiesta Tuesday when men carried the statue of St. Peter to the beach in the rain as a crowd followed behind. There they dedicated this year’s events to Matteo Russo and his father-in-law John Orlando, two fishermen who were lost at sea in the dark early hours of Jan. 3. It’s unclear just what happened, but so far the most likely scenario seems to be that their boat, the Patriot, may have been flipped when it collided with a tug’s towline 15 miles offshore. Russo had owned the 54-foot-long steel-hulled trawler for not quite a year.
The photo above shows that dedication ceremony, with (from left to right) Orlando’s daughter Grace Burbridge, his widow Anna Orlando, his grandchild Alexia Russo, and Josie Russo. Josie lost her father and her husband in the wreck. She was pregnant with their second child at the time, John Matteo, whom she holds in her arms. He was born in mid May.
Related: The photos here are by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. The rest of our extensive photographic coverage of Fiesta can be seen here. For additional perspectives, check out the photos of Jane Cunningham (who writes a lovely Fiesta tribute), Todd Prussman, Sharon Lowe, and, of course, the Gloucester Times and Cape Ann Beacon. A word to the wise for the new North Shore Art Throb: try to avoid writing descriptions of ethnic groups like this: “I feel a bit like a scientist observing chimpanzees at play.”