Christmas in Little Italy

There is an old Italian saying “to get what you want, you must share what you have.” The residents and businesses of Troy’s Little Italy invite the people of the Capital District to share in our love for our Italian heritage and our spirit of Christmas by attending Christmas in Little Italy” to be held on Saturday, December 5, 2009, beginning at 5:30 pm at Liberty Square (Fourth and Liberty Streets) on the evening before Troy’s Victorian Stroll.

Our event begins with the display of an eight foot Ceppo (an Italian Christmas tree) at Liberty Square along with a community Christmas tree donated by the DeFazio family. The Ceppo, a three tiered pyramid shaped structure made of wood, has its origin in the Tuscan region of Italy. A Nativity scene donated by St. Anthony of Padua Shrine Church, representing the gift of God, is displayed on the bottom shelf. The remaining two shelves contain greenery, fruits, nuts, and presents representing the gifts of the Earth and Man. There will be Christmas carols sung in both Italian and English led by members of a local school choir. Musical accompaniment will be provided by Historic Second Street neighbor John Chupka on accordion. There may be several other musicians announced soon. Roasted chestnuts will be available at the site compliments of Chef Michael LoPorto. 
The timeless Italian Christmas folk story of the legend of Old Befana, based on author Tomie DePaola’s popular childrens’ book, will be read by Claire Davis of the Osgood neighborhood. The reading will be held at Lisa’s Gelateria (across the street from Liberty Square) while you enjoy holiday treats and hot beverages. Holiday cookies and candy will be provided for each child attending the event.

At 7 pm, Professor/Cavalier Philip J. DiNovo, founder and President of the American Italian Heritage Association, (our “Dr. Phil”) will give a presentation on Italian Christmas traditions in the meeting center of the Freihofer’s Run for Women building a block south of Liberty Square at the corner of Fourth and Washington Streets. The event concludes with a showing of the entertaining film, Pinocchio, at Flavour’s Café across the street from the meeting center.

Several neighborhood restaurants, including Carmen’s Café, DeFazio’s Pizzeria, Flavour’s Café, the Irish Mist, Lisa’s Gelateria, and the Red Front Restaurant and Tavern, welcome your patronage on the night of the Christmas in Little Italy event if you choose to dine before or after our program.

On Sunday, December 6th, the day of the Victorian Stroll, volunteers from Troy’s Little Italy will join with representatives of the Italian Community Center and the CYO Center at shared information tables in the Troy Atrium between the hours of 11 am and 5 pm. We will provide a continuous showing of our neighborhood history DVD. There will be a book signing of Troy’s Little Italy, as well as copies of Tomie DePaola’s The Legend of Old Befana on sale. In addition, a Silent Auction will be held on the second floor level of the Atrium outside the Bingo Hall to benefit the “Adopt a Family Fund” being sponsored by volunteer workers from the St. Anthony and Troy Little Italy bingo players with the support of various local businesses. Troy Little Italy will hold Bingo at 2 pm – doors will open at 10 am! Join us for a pleasant weekend of Christmas and holiday traditions.
–Mike Esposito 
Originally published 11/29/09 in The Troy Record as TRIP’s Troy Treasures column, which runs in every other Sunday edition.