Italian heritage was celebrated by senior citizens of New Rochelle Saturday afternoon.
The Hugh A. Doyle Senior Center hosted “Festa Italiana,” an Italian festival in its third year. About 100 seniors attended the event, with ages ranging from 60 to 99.
“We have a large Italian population,” said Phillis Maucieri, executive director of the Senior Center. “We try to hold events that are culturally significant to our members and celebrate them in a way our seniors are familiar with.”
Food was catered by Hubbards Cupboard, the Center’s weekly caterer. The menu, which followed nutritional guidelines, began with cantaloupe and grape juice, followed by salad, sausage and peppers, bowtie pasta and bread.
There were four volunteers who set up for the festival and served the food to the seniors. Two of the volunteers were students from Blessed Sacrament St. Gabriel High School who often volunteer.
The event’s entertainment was singer Angelina Mendes, who sang Italian classics and American oldies hits. Some songs were held close to the hearts of the seniors as they sang along in Italian. Other songs made feet tap and brought seniors to the dance floor.
Dolores Shutts and John Condelario spent a lot of time on the dance floor. The couple, who have been members of the Center for 16 years, danced hand-in-hand to the cha-cha and to some of Frank Sinatra’s love songs.
“This is a fun event,” said Shutts. “We enjoy coming here together.”
William F. Moye, 97, never seemed to leave the dance floor. Moye, who is a frequent visitor of the Senior Center, is a World War II veteran. He fought alongside the United States Army Quartermaster Corps in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.
“I am glad to have all my limbs intact and my head on my shoulders,” said Moye. “I am happy to be dancing.”
Many seniors are immigrants who came from Italy to America in the ’20s and ’30s when they were children.
Filomena Ricato, who has been a member of the Senior Center for many years, was born in Italy and came to America in 1929.
She expressed pride in her heritage, as did the other seniors who emigrated from Italy.
Maucieri’s good friend, Anna Maria Santorelli, who is the executive chef of a restaurant in Larchmont, was at the event. Santorelli moved to America from Italy at the age of 10.
She was applauded when she said, “Be humble. Don’t forget where you come from.”