KINGSTON–The Italians had a little more luck than the Irish this year.
While a soaking rain hit Kingston at around 7 a.m. on Sunday, the clouds eventually cleared for most of the Italian Festival–unlike this year’s Hooley on the Hudson.
The popular Irish festival on Sept. 3 was plagued by heavy rains and cool temperatures, keeping the usual large crowds at bay.
Members of the Ulster County Italian American Foundation weren’t so sure they would dodge the same bullet.
“We’re thrilled that the weather turned out good,” said David Scarpino, the foundation treasurer. “Especially at 7:30 this morning. It rained until 11 o’clock, so we were working to set up in the pouring rain, and we were still optimistic.”
Scarpino, the president and chief executive officer at HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, spent his day under a tent, pouring wine for a long line of thirsty festival goers.
High humidity made for an uncomfortable afternoon with temperatures peaking into the high 70s.
The Hudson Valley was beginning to feel the effects of Hurricane Nate, which made landfall in Mississippi on Saturday night.
Many of the attendees at the festival came dressed in their summer shorts and sandals to enjoy the Indian summer and big ethnic celebration at the foot of Broadway.
“When we got down here this morning, it was pouring,” said Laurie Morris, chairwoman of the foundation’s membership committee.
“Then, the clouds opened up and the sun came out, and it’s beautiful. We have a great crowd. I think as the day goes on, it will get busier. The food’s great, the music is wonderful and we have a great turnout. We’re very happy. Our goal every year…is to get as big as the Hooley.”
Other than the food, the live entertainment was like a magnet at the bustling Strand.
The acclaimed Steven Maglio, known for his tribute to Frank Sinatra, as well as the Michael Dell Orchestra, Hot Rod and the phantoms kept the party hopping into the evening.
The event, which was competing for foot traffic with two other annual Kingston events–the O+ and Forsyth Nature festivals–also featured strolling musicians, a children’s craft tent, storytelling and a contest to determine the favorite Italian actress.
Sophia Loren won the popular vote, defeating Gina Lollobrigida.
Michele Tuzzi, whose parents came to America from Naples, was not at all surprised.
“I pass by her house on the Amalfi Coast all the time when I go back,” she said. “Sophia’s the queen. She’s my idol.”