Our Boys Band gets back together for San Marziale parade in Kulpmont
KULPMONT - When the San Marziale Parade restarted in 2011, it was heralded as the renewal of a borough tradition.
Now, a tradition within that tradition will also restart. The Our Boys Band will perform for the first time in many years as part of the Sunday, July 7, event, in which paraders march with the statue of San Marziale.
"With the band involved, we are hoping for a great turnout," said Christopher Bressi, an organizer. "These guys are legendary and words can't describe how thrilled we are to be part of their return to action."
The band is being organized by Bill Milbrand, director of Our Shamokin Band, who was more than happy to be part of the event.
"It is great to see communities bring back the ethnic traditions we grew up with," Milbrand said. "When the organizers asked for my help, my heart started beating about 90 miles an hour."
Milbrand said there was one catch: he wanted the blessing of the Kulpmont-based band's past director, Angelo Alexander Jr.
"'Junior' was the director for the band for many years and was the last director before the band folded. I wanted to speak with him before I did anything," Milbrand said.
It was Alexander's father, Angelo Sr., who formed the band in 1921 and ran it until his health declined and his son took over, according to Milbrand.
After a 90-minute conversation between the two on Alexander's porch, the Kulpmont band director gave his approval, and the band was on board.
A musical tribute
Five former Our Boys Band members have committed to playing in the San Marziale Parade, and Milbrand said between community volunteers and members of the Mount Carmel Area and Line Mountain marchingbBands, they are expected to have a full set of musicians to play the Italian symphonic marches.
"I'm going to have Junior involved, too," Milbrand said. "I want him to direct the band when we are at the church playing when the statue comes out and when it goes back in."
As the band and members of the faithful march through the streets, the statue of San Marziale, the patron saint of Isca sull' Ionio, in Calabria, Italy, will join them.
"The town was the birthplace of many Italian immigrants who came to America, eventually settling in the Coal Region, for a better life," Bressi said.
Legend of St. Marziale
According to legend, St. Marziale was the youngest of seven sons, known as the seven martyrs, of St. Felicitas and is also the patron saint of Torricella Peligna in the Abruzzo region of Italy.
The parade coincides with his feast day of July 10. Onlookers can pin money to the statue; the money will be donated to Holy Angels Church.
"It's now all about turnout and involvement," Bressi said. "The more involvement by the community and local businesses, the bigger and better this event will continue to get for years to come."
The parade will begin at 1 p.m. at Holy Angels Church, 855 Scott St. Those who will participate and march are asked to meet at the church for 12:30 p.m. and will be welcome for food and refreshments at the Holy Angels picnic grounds following the event.
The event is coordinated and sponsored by Bressi Family Foods, Landscape Services, Holy Angels Church and its Holy Name Society, the Kulpmont Council of the Knights of Columbus and various dedicated individuals and businesses.
Any local businesses or individuals who want to be a named or anonymous sponsor can contact Bressi at 373-9433 or Tom Letcavage at Landscape Services at 274-1508.