Don't miss the St. Peter's Fiesta this June!
The St. Peter’s Fiesta in Gloucester has become a nationwide summer attraction. The event, running from June 24th through June 28th, is full of fun games and religious ceremonies. This event started in the late 1920’s when waves of Italian immigrants flocked to Gloucester. Salvatore Favazza took the first step in establishing this annual celebration by enshrining a life-size statue of St. Peter in the heart of Gloucester’s Italian district. Soon after the enshrinement, fishermen and their families began to pray before the statue, which they appealed to as the protector of all fishermen. Wives of and mothers of the fishermen started constructing plans for a religious procession to be held annually on June 29 in honor of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. As time passed, this annual procession grew to a weeklong festival. Today, the entire Italian-American section of Gloucester is decorated with flags, bunting, colored lights and streamers during the event. greasy pole and boats.
On Wednesday, June 24th, festivities will kick off with musical entertainment from 7-10pm at St Peter’s Park. The musical guests singing at this event are “Barry Mooney and Friends.” On Thursday, June 25th at 6:30 pm, the annual Fiesta 5K Road Race with the Cape Ann YMCA will begin at St. Peter’s Square. After the road race, runners and festival-goers alike can experience Entertainment, Dance and Music featuring “Jenny Dee and the Delinquents” at St. Peter’s Park at St. Peter’s Park from 8 to 11:30 pm.
The Greasy Pole Contest on Friday, June 26th at 4:45 pm has been a fan favorite since its conception in 1931. To start the contest, a heavily greased, 45 foot horizontal pole is situated 200 feet off Pavilion Beach. The object of this competition is to successfully cross the pole and grab the flag nailed to end of it. Contestants use different strategies to cross the pole, as some try to sprint across while others try to take it one step at a time. Once a contestant captures the flag, he then swims to the beach with all the other contestants. Those surrounding the winner then lift him onto their shoulders and parade around the town.
Though the Greasy Pole competition has a loyal following, the Seine Boat Racing is the real highlight of the Fiesta sporting activities, held at 4:45 pm on Friday, June 28th. Three boats, the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria are manned by twelve member crews. Starting at Pavilion Beach, each boat must row out a half mile, sail around a flag, and then return to shore. The first boat to reach land is the winner. Saturday, June 27th is the elimination race with the top two finishers getting to face the defending champions on Sunday, June 30th. This event has men, women, and junior categories. For an ideal rowing technique, each stroke must be long and smooth, with every rower’s stroke in sync. If everybody is rowing at a different pace, the boat will not be able to reach an optimum speed and will likely cost the team the race. This race can be very grueling and is a test of stamina, upper arm strength, and teamwork. The formal opening ceremonies for the Seine Boat Racing will take place in St. Peter’s Square at 7:30 pm, with entertainment from Seabreeze, lasting till 11:30 pm.
On Saturday, June 27th at 9:30 am, Family Activity Day will take place with details available at Newell Stadium. At 10:00 am, a special military seine boat event will feature a competition between the US Coast Guard and the US Navy. The Gloucester Police Department and the Gloucester Fire Department will also go head-to-head at that time. Children’s events at the beach court will start at 3:00 pm while the Greasy Pole and Seine Boat Racing events take place at 4:45 pm. Musical entertainment Panorama featuring vocalist Natalie Pinto will cap off the day from 8-11:30 pm in St. Peter’s Square. On Sunday, June 28th, the festivities will begin with a celebration of Mass of St. Peter at St. Peter’s Park. At noon, there will be a procession following the outdoor mass. Floats are often decorated with religious themes, and bands come from all over to participate. Many religious groups carry statues of the Virgin Mary and other patron saints, but the main figure is the statue of St. Peter, who is carried upon the shoulders of volunteers. At 3:00 pm, the blessing of the Fleet will take place on Stacy Boulevard. At 4:45 pm, the Greasy Pole and Seine Boat Racing events will have their final competitions. The Children’s Piñata contest at Pascucci Court will be start at 6:30 pm. The awards from the Greasy Pole and Seine Boat races will be given at 7:15 pm. To close out the weekly festivities, there will be a concert at St. Peter’s Park featuring the Paul London as well raffle drawings and a closing procession.