Summer is my favorite time of the year. Not just because of warm weather and beach days, but because of a celebration in my hometown of Gloucester, Massachusetts.
St. Peter’s Fiesta is an annual celebration of St. Peter—the patron saint of fishermen. Gloucester is known for its large Italian American fishing community, so it’s no surprise that St. Peter is so heavily celebrated.
Fiesta Sunday is the last and most important day. My aunt lives down the street from all the activities, so she’ll host a cookout every year. Shortly after we arrive to my aunt’s house, we’ll all walk down the street to watch the parade. My mom will buy flowers and pins of St. Peter for all the girls.
Somewhere between the marching bands and baton twirlers, a statue of St. Peter is carried through the streets of Gloucester. The men will shout, “Me chi samiou tutti mutti?” and expect the response, “Viva San Pietro!”
The Greasy Pole competition is later in the afternoon, and hundreds of people will congregate on the beach to watch it. Men will run along a horizontal greased pole—sometimes hitting it on the way down, more often slipping off the side and into the ocean—to capture a flag at the end.
The first round is considered a courtesy round; no one can take the flag. This gives all of the contestants a chance to run before the actual competition starts. Winning the Greasy Pole on Sunday is one of the most prestigious honors. The Sunday winner is paraded through the streets, and congratulated by everyone they pass by.
This year, St. Peter’s Fiesta begins on Wednesday, June 27, and ends on Sunday, July 1. I can’t wait!
Image credit: Cody Carlson