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San Rocco Lives On In Fort Lee

Members carrying the statue of their patron saint.
Members carrying the statue of their patron saint. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Saint Rocco Society Fort Lee

FORT LEE, N.J.– Members of Fort Lee's Saint Rocco's Society are carrying on a tradition that dates back almost nine decades.

Nearly two-dozen members will carry a statue of their patron saint down Main Street on Sunday in Fort Lee's Italian Festival.

"It demonstrates our devotion and thanks to our Patron Saint Rocco for all he did to those that where in need of healing, prayer and uplifting of their spiritual beliefs," society Vice President Rocco Palaia said.

The 87-year-old feast kicks off Wednesday and will feature food, live music, games, raffles and fireworks.

Sunday's festivities will begin with a 9 a.m. Mass, followed by the feast at 2 p.m. 

The parade will have a marching band and features 16-20 men carrying a 100-pound statue of St. Rocco on a 100-pound base, up and down the streets of Fort Lee.

The main event caps the festival on Sunday with the Saint Rocco Parade at 4 p.m.

The Saint Rocco Italian-American Mutual Aid Society was founded in 1927 by Italian immigrants from Calabria.

"A lot has changed in Fort Lee since this feast started 87 years ago," Palaia said. "But people want it to continue. It doesn't matter what your ethnicity is."

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