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Verplanck Italian Feast Celebrates 90th Year

VERPLANCK, N.Y. - Verplanck's traditional Italian Feast, a 90-year-old summer staple, will take over Highland Avenue and 8th Street through Sunday.

Starting today, the festival opens each night at 6 p.m. and includes rides, games, live music and Italian-American food.

"It's unique; it's one of the oldest-running feasts in New York. People come back every year," said Eugene Capicotto, 66, of Verplanck.

Capicotto is president of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society, a nonprofit civic organization that the feast benefits. He said the event actually has been going on longer than 90 years informally, and his family is as much a staple of the festival as the hamlet in which it's held.

Long-time president of the society and organizer of the feast, Anthony "Chubby" Capicotti, Capicotto's brother, left big shoes to fill after his death in 2010, said Capicotto. Chubby's son, Anthony Capicotti, 39, now heads up the festival, and has helped organize the famous fireworks display with his uncle.

Special events taking place during the festival include:

- Italian-American Idol, at 6 p.m. Friday, hosted by WHUD's Kacey Morabito.

-- The firefighters' parade at 5 p.m. Saturday beginning on 5th Street in Verplanck.

-- An Italian Mass at 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Patrick's Church on 11th Street, followed by a procession with the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Arguably one of the most memorable moments of the festival, the procession of the Madonna through the streets of Verplanck, is a direct import from Italy, Capicotto said. Many Italian immigrants who settled in Verplanck are from the Calabria region of Italy, in the toe of the Italian peninsula. During the procession, a statue of the Lady of Mount Carmel is carried through the streets of Verplanck and money is attached to the statue by people donating to the church often in hopes a prayer will be answered, Capicotto said. 

The festival culminate with a fireworks display at 11 p.m. Sunday.

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