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Feast of St. Rocco continues 100 years of tradition

Year-old Emma and her father Jon Acquafredda, 38,

Year-old Emma and her father Jon Acquafredda, 38, of Oyster Bay, ride the carousel at the Feast of St. Rocco celebration in Oyster Bay on Friday. (July 13, 2012) Credit: Michael Cusanelli

For Italian-Americans on Long Island, the Feast of St. Rocco has been a tradition for more than 100 years.

The five-night festival at Fireman’s Field in Oyster Bay is organized by the Italian American Club and features Italian music, food and homemade wine.

“The idea of the feast and the club itself is to promote Italian-American heritage,” said Tom McGee, the financial secretary for the Italian American Citizens Club. “We want to keep all of the traditions we remember as kids.”

About 15,000 festivalgoers are expected to attend the feast, which kicked off Wednesday and runs until Sunday. Among the festival highlights: attendees will also be able to enter a raffle to win $10,000; the winner is announced at 9 p.m. Sunday.

“They’re having a rockin’ time,” said Nicole Albicocco, 42, of Jericho, as her two young daughters danced excitedly. “It’s usually a pretty good venue.”

Proceeds from the feast, which originated on Long Island in 1910, will go toward the improvement of the club’s building and to Oyster Bay residents in need.

St. Rocco is known as the patron saint of the sick and is a widely celebrated religious figure among Catholic Italian-Americans.

“It’s such a beautiful, laid back, safe environment,” said Emily Johnson, 48, of Locust Valley. “But it’s not too big. It’s all about Oyster Bay.”

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