by Joanne Spata
The sights, sounds and scents of Christmas were in the air as Casa Italia welcomed over 1,200 people to its annual Christmas Village. What better way to celebrate the holiday than through a show of unity, as eight of Chicago land’s most prestigious organizations joined together to sponsor this most joyous of events.
The aroma of roasting chestnuts wafted together with the snap, crackle, pop, of fresh dough frying in the unseasonably warm December air. As the strains of jolly Christmas music were heard, they were enlivened by the clippity clop of a dual horse drawn sleigh filled with delighted families as they rode around the festively decorated Casa Italia grounds. Fifty lighted and decorated Christmas trees festooned the grounds; most of them sponsored by various organizations, businesses and families who wanted to help support this fabulous day of Yuletide fun.
At noon, Fr. August Feccia presided at the celebration of the Mass as the members of Casa Puglia performed a Living Nativity Pageant. Thanks to Ron Onesti, of Onesti Entertainment, even the overflow crowd in the Casa gym had a front row seat for the pageantry as they broadcast the liturgy to the Chandelier Room as well.
And what would a Christmas celebration be without an appearance by the jolly old man himself, Santa Claus! Each of the hundreds of children present was treated to a visit with Santa as they were given a special plush and cuddly present. They also received a photo with the big guy and their family. And the best part is, through the generosity of Casa Italia, and its partners: Calabrese in America Organization, Casa Puglia, Columbian Club of Chicago, Italian American Executives of Transportation, the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, Knights of Columbus, and Unification of Italian Americans; everything was free!
Homemade Italian delicacies were offered all day long, as the attendees enjoyed the music of the Zampanaro and a visit with La Befana too. Tours were given of the Italian Cultural Center’s museums and art galleries; while arts and crafts projects were held with the children making beautiful wings to transform themselves into little angels as they enjoyed their heavenly day.
The event was such a success that Casa Italia is already accepting reservations from sponsors looking to support the magical Christmas Village next year. Buone Feste!