There was plenty of flair and faith on display when thousands of people turned out for Sydney’s largest Italian street festival and community gathering held each August in Five Dock.
The usually traffic-snarled Great North Road was bustling with locals and visitors who enjoyed more than 150 food and market stalls, rides, a car show, cooking show, Italian cinema, and a huge variety of performances on 18 August.
For the first time the event, named Ferragosto, was preceded with a procession held in honour of the Feast of the Assumption – in line with the origins of the celebration through the Italian migrant community which made the area its home after the Second World War.
The procession was organised by All Hallow’s Parish in Five Dock and led by Fr Nicholas Rynne with the blessing of the Canada Bay council and its mayor Angelo Tsirekas.
Bearing a crucifix and a statue of the Madonna, banners and incense, parishioners including students and families from All Hallow’s Primary School, and members of local Catholic associations and groups formed the large procession.
Led by Fr Nicholas Rynne they sang the Ave Maria and Italian hymns performed by the Giuseppe Verdi Marching Band while they walked the length of the shopping strip along Great North Road.
Stopping only to recite the Rosary’s Glorious Mystery of the Assumption, they eventually reached the main stage where they recited the Litany of Loreto before Fr Nicholas blessed more than 400 Miraculous Medals for the crowd that had been carried in a basket by the All Hallow’s school captain.
With the procession ended the entertainment began, with singer, songwriter, and former Home and Away star, Johnny Ruffo, bringing the stage to life, along with comedian, Joe Avati, and a variety of song and dance performances by local community groups and schools.
People made the most of the spring-like sunshine and, as lunchtime approached, the best Italian cuisine on offer including ravioli, pizza, gnocchi and the area’s legendary ricotta cheesecake while contemplating whether they wanted to enter the cannoli-eating or guess-the-gelati flavour competitions.
Organisers hope the procession will continue to be a feature of the much-loved festival.