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Meet four families behind the Feast of St. Rocco in Glen Cove

The Giglio Marching Band, under the direction of

The Giglio Marching Band, under the direction of Daniel Vecchiano, adds to the festivities at the Feast of St. Rocco in Glen Cove. Photo Credit: Aaron Zebrook

For parishioners from the Church of St. Rocco in Glen Cove, volunteering at the annual feast is a rite of passage. For five nights, 200 people work hard grilling sausage, peeling peaches and serving everything from homemade pasta to pastries.

Here are four families who have carried on the tradition for multiple generations:


FIND THEM At the pasta takeout booth

Gary and Gina Galante took over running the booth from Gary’s parents, Josephine and the late Anthony. Their family’s lineage goes back to the initial set of parishioners who orchestrated building the church in the 1930s.

“My grandparents lived in the St. Rocco neighborhood when they came here as immigrants from Italy at the turn of the [20th] century,” says Gary, 60, of Glen Cove. “They helped put together the money and the labor to build the church.”

Josephine, 87, still works in the booth slicing up the bread for the meatball heros as her grandson John, 23, helps set up the booths.

“We all do it because we love our church,” says Gary. “We feel dedicated to it.”


FIND THEM At the Salute Café (desserts)

Donna Marino worked the 50/50 raffle booth for years with her mother, Rosemary Tripp, daughter Karen and son Mikey while her brother Tony Tripp served as a money counter. This year, she’s moving to staff the Salute Café with her husband, Robert.

“It’s very rewarding and satisfying,” says Donna, 62, of Glen Cove. “People come back for the feast like it’s a high school reunion.”

Her mother, Rosemary, 89, is pleased to see her daughter’s dedication. “It means we are going to keep the church going,” she says. “We need young people to take over and carry on.”


FIND THEM At the sausage-and-peppers booth

If you like your sausage and peppers hot, come see John Zozzaro, who fries up 300 pounds of onions and peppers a day at the booth devoted to the popular heros.

“I’m the hot-pepper guy,” says Zozzaro, 44, of Glen Cove. “No one else can stand the smoke coming from the hot peppers.”

His mom, Matilde, used to work at the peaches-and-wine booth and his father, Michele, poured at the beer truck. Today Matilde, 69, works in the office answering phones while Michele, 69, is a money counter.

“Working at the feast is something you pass on from one generation to the next,” says Zozzaro. “You want to make your parents or grandparents proud by helping out as much as they did.”

Meanwhile, his cousin Antoinette Pepper and her husband, Harris, prepare salads with Yolanda “The Salad Queen” Ruthkowski.

“She’s grooming us to take over,” says Antoinette, 51, of Glen Cove. “Working the feast is always the highlight of the summer.”


FIND THEM Everywhere

Lucille Johnson has been working the feast for more than 30 years and she’s among five generations of family members to volunteer, from her late grandfather Joseph Capobianco to her granddaughter Lindsey Gorham, 30. She spent many years serving pastries before moving into the Pasta Pavilion. Other family members work all over the festival.

“There’s a lot of history with us,” says Johnson, 81, of Glen Cove. “My father went to Pennsylvania to pick up the stone to build the church. A lot of us have history, which keeps the parish going. It’s our strength.”


WHEN | WHERE 6-11 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 3-11 p.m. Saturday and 3-10 p.m. Sunday, July 26-30, Third Street and St. Rocco Place, Glen Cove

INFO 516-676-2482,



Can’t-miss food items at the feast:

Sausage and pepper hero ($8): It’s the signature sandwich that people drive miles to buy. Hot or sweet, take your pick.

Eggplant rollatini ($10): A compact version of eggplant Parmesan for those on the go.

Rice balls ($4 each): A homemade treat filled with rice, peas, chopped meat and cheesy goodness.

Peaches and wine ($5): Eating these hand-peeled peaches soaked in red wine is like tasting Tuscany.

Cappuccino float ($7): Cool off with this coffee-meets-ice-cream-sundae combo.

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