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‘The Best Feast in the East’ returns to Glen Cove

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Excitement is in the air in Glen Cove as residents have begun to see carnival rides being assembled and a statue of St. Rocco erected in the parking lot of the Church of Saint Rocco. Next week, the Feast of St. Rocco, the church’s annual five-day fundraiser, returns at full strength, after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the Italian-American heritage celebration last summer.

For over 80 years, the feast, set for July 28-Aug. 1, has been “a big celebration of faith and family,” according to Reggie Spinello, a past chairman of the event, drawing visitors from neighboring towns as well as locals. “Many residents of Glen Cove have grown up with the feasts,” Spinello said. “First you go with your parents, you then go by yourself as a teenager, and then you bring your own children there. It’s a passing of age that comes with the feast.”

The Church of Saint Rocco was built by parishioners in the early 1900s in devotion to Saint Rocco, a patron saint of incurable diseases. The church community began hosting a feast that included a procession through the streets of the neighborhood with a statue of Saint Rocco, a tradition that is still honored today.

Classic Italian dishes such as eggplant parmesan, meatballs and rollatini will be available inside the church’s parish hall — or as feast-goers call it, the Pasta Pavilion. A variety of homemade dishes by Chef Arturo and 30-plus volunteer “nonnas” from the community will also be served. There will be a pasta takeout booth outside, for those who prefer their meals on the go.

As Covid-19 remains a concern in the community, safety precautions will be in effect. “We’ve set up sanitizing stations, met with [the] Glen Cove Police Department as well as our own private security firm,” Spinello said.

The feast will look a bit different from past years. “St. Rocco Place and Third Street will be more open,” Angie Colangelo, the event chairwoman, explained. “Food and craft vendors will be in slightly different places to increase room for outdoor dining.”

Adrenaline junkies will be stoked for the 13 rides provided by Newton Shows, of East Northport, including the longtime favorite Super Shot. “It’s a 90-foot-drop tower that takes you up high, that hasn’t been there for a number of years so the people will love it,” said Mike Newton, president of Newton Shows.

The feast is an annual highlight not only for Glen Covers, but for many across the North Shore. “It’s a community event, not only for the church, but it really does bring the community together,” said Colangelo. Many look forward in attending not only for the attractions, but to renew friendships. “You always wind up seeing people who you haven’t seen in a while,” Spinello added, “which means people always show up at the feast.”

“It really has been a Glen Cove tradition,” resident Ivan Arevalo said. “I always look forward to the end of summer just for this.”

“We’re really excited for everyone to come out and enjoy the Church of Saint Rocco Feast 2.0,” the Rev. Daniel Nash, the church’s pastor, said. “The best feast in the East is back.”