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Zeppoles, Zipper ride are crowd favorites at Feast of Mother Cabrini

Sal Mangano of Lindenhurst prepares zeppole during the

Sal Mangano of Lindenhurst prepares zeppole during the Mother Cabrini feast on the Grant Campus of Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. Sal has been making zeppole with his uncle Pat at the feast since 1981. Credit: Steven Sunshine

Two of the themes dominating the 44th Feast of Mother Cabrini in Brentwood on Saturday both started with a Z -- zeppoles and the Zipper ride.

Gloria Alcerro, 52, of Brentwood was waiting with her young daughter while her husband, Dennis, 36, polished off his sausage and peppers. "Later on, I'm going to have a zeppole," she said.

Dennis joined others who started with snow cones or pretzels and planned to end with one of the fritters dusted with powdered sugar -- staples of Roman and Neapolitan cuisine -- that are a feature of the fair at Suffolk County Community College that runs through Sunday.

Kevin Mander, 54, who runs the zeppole-eating contest with Pat Mangano, 72, and his nephew Sal Mangano, 60, all of Lindenhurst, said contestants usually ate 12 or 13 of the delicacies in the three minutes allowed.

Youth, a slight build, and perhaps one gender might have an advantage.

"The last couple of years, the winners were young, skinny girls," he said.

Some outliers did not plan to start or finish with zeppoles, however. "I'm a zeppole guy; my wife is a funnel cake person," said Jason Cabera, 34, of Islip.

Protein lovers also found plenty of fare. "Who doesn't love fair food?" asked Lee Besser of Manorville, who was waiting for her husband, Greg, who in turn was waiting to see if Greg Jr., 16, gave the steak and garlic a thumbs-up. "He's the guinea pig," jested the senior, before placing his order.

John Newton, 66, who owns East Northport-based Newton Shows with his brother Michael, said he has seen the feast -- which this year raises money for local charities of the Giuseppe A. Nigro Lodge #2234, Order of the Sons of Italy -- grow from five or six food trucks and the same number of rides to about 30 of each.

Of the 30 rides, the Zipper, a Ferris wheel with spinning cages, draws the younger generation, Newton said.

"That's obviously the most popular with teenagers because it's the most sickening, it flips and flops them all around," he said.

Newton said he planned to ride the Super Shot, which lifts riders strapped in their seats about 90 feet high before swiftly returning them to earth.

Others already were enjoying its thrills, though not Eric Amarat, 40, of Medford, who instead was watching two of the passengers: his wife, Bali, 43, and his daughter Brooke, 6. "I can't enjoy their faces if I'm on the ride with them," he said.

Bali Amarat said: "I just can't help but scream" after several trips on the Super Shot. "When I was a girl, it gave us a lot of great fun," she said.

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