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Little Italy says ‘ciao’ to St. Anthony’s Festival

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Posted at 9:01 PM, May 31, 2024

BALTIMORE — It was 1904. 120 years ago. Smoke loomed in the Baltimore air.

So, too, did fear, for nearby St. Leo the Great's Catholic Church.

"There was a fire that was occurring at that time in the neighborhood," said Roy Sambuchino, events manager for the church, "We were very concerned about the church, and that it would be going up in flames. So all the Italian-Americans prayed to St. Anthony, the church got through."

Their prayers were answered. Each year since then, besides during Covid, St. Anthony's Festival has taken place.

"This feast will always be in his honor, because we believe he saved us, in 1904, from the fire," Sambuchino explained.

Fast forward to Friday night: Buongiorno from Exeter St. Parishioners in 2024 prayed to St. Anthony for a great forecast, and the weather was breezy, warm and Mediterranean, like you'd gone across the ocean to 'the boot' itself.

The festival raises funds for the parish; dozens of vendors line the streets.

"It just brings a lot of people together. A lot of people don't know about it, you tell them and it draws them in," said Kristen Balousek, a Baltimore resident attending the festival.

The festival will continue the rest of this weekend, with food, face-painting and more family fun, on Exeter St. in Baltimore from 11am-7pm Saturday, and from 11am-6pm Sunday.