BOSTON — Music and cheers of “Viva la Madonna” echoed down Atlantic Avenue in the North End as the Fisherman’s Feast kicked off Thursday.
The tradition started more than 100 years ago, brought from Sicily by Italian immigrants.
“Since 1910 - we are 112 years old, we are the longest-running Italian festival in the North End of Boston, and that’s continuous,” said Dominic Strazzullo, president of the of Fisherman’s Feast.
Festival organizers say it commemorates miracles in Sicily by the Madonna, known as Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca. Every year in August, it draws tens of thousands to this Italian enclave in Boston.
“Last year was the first year back from COVID, and I think a lot of people were tired of being inside and they all came out. We had record-breaking numbers and crowds,” said Strazzullo.
They expect to top last year’s crowds of 75,000, but with the Orange Line shutdown on Friday at 9 p.m., one major route here will be disrupted.
“That’s a little bit of a concern for us; yes, it is. People do use the Orange Line to come to our festival. We do put it on our website,” he said.
Now he’s advising people who will take the T here this weekend to try the Blue, Green or Silver Lines.
“So, if you really do want to come to the feast look at your shuttle schedules and look the other lines so you can come and partake in our festivities,” he said.
T riders are concerned but say they’ll do their best to get here.
“I don’t know much about how the shuttles are going to run and because so many people use Orange Line, I don’t if everyone is going to fit on those shuttles,” said Felicia Haffar who is an Orange Line rider.
Organizers say fortunately the North End is accessible from several T stops.
“We’re steps away from North Station and Haymarket, which you can still get to the Blue Line, the Green Line the Silver Line. There’s always ways to get in from public transportation,” said Kenneth Palazzolo, a feast chairman and past president of Fisherman’s Feast.
The Fisherman’s Feast runs through Sunday.
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