Italian Picnics Rule at Confederation Park

During each of the past two Sundays when cloud, rain and wind were in the weather forecast, Sol, the sun god of the ancient Roman Empire appeared mysteriously to intervene to save the day. Around noon on both days a blue sky opened and a somewhat shy and reluctant sun made its debut. The heavenly ball of flame worked its magic as it brightly cast warmth and invigorating rays among hundreds of Italian picnic goers at Burnaby’s Confederation Park on the west side of Capitol Hill.
Within minutes a bevy of Italian society members emerged from protective tents to place sausages on grills, boil pasta water and prepare for the expected deluge of hungry picnic goers. They were not disappointed. Scores of young children, playing, some singing, others with painted faces began to have a great time under the watchful eyes of their parents and/or grandparents.
The Pugliese Society was first to brave the concern over weather. A group of members and friends arrived before noon on July 3rd. They soon were greeting friends on the picnic grounds and in an area where bocce players had a full view of the beauty that is the north shore mountains. The Pugliese, under the leadership of Vito Bruno, the popular TV and radio host, constitutes a very progressive society. The group which was established in 1983 is affiliated with the Italian Cultural Centre and works toward strengthening ties and cultural exchanges between other associations in Puglia and B.C.
Last Sunday, July 10th, there were two Italian societies extending greetings to their respective members and friends on the north and south sides of Confederation Park’s picnic grounds.
Visiting among the picnic goers of the Vicentina Cultural Society of BC, your correspondent met with Maria Pagnan, the society’s indefatigable leader and spokesperson. She talked with pride of the society’s members and supporters who together accounted for the day’s successes. Among the special friends in attendance were Vittorino Dal Cegnio, Silvano Xausa and Antonio (Tony) Visocci the photos of which appear in this section of the newspaper.
Founded in 1976, the Vicentini group is a member of the Italian Cultural Centre Society. One of the society’s main objectives – from its very inception – has been to unite extended family members of the original expatriates from Vicentina. Moreover, they are dedicated to acquainting and educating Canadian families with roots to the beautiful Vicenza with the city’s customs, language, traditions and culture.
A hundred metres or so from the site of the Vicentini, I located the Campani nel Mondo Society which had set up a large picnic tent and food facilities. One of the most energetic members of this group, not surprisingly, is its president, Joe Rea. Between assisting the front line food-handlers and running back and forth to the grills to fill orders for delicious looking sausage panini, Joe was one busy man. However, he acknowledged with an ingratiating smile the dedication of his wonderful group of workers.
The Campani Worldwide Association of Vancouver is one of the more recently established societies in Greater Vancouver. Founded in 2003, this group, also affiliated with the Italian Cultural Centre, is dedicated to preserve and promote the culture, customs and folklore of its beloved Campania a region which includes the cities of Naples, Capri, Paestum, Pompei and Amalfi. In addition, it strives to communicate these values to the families of its members so they may know and identify with their root-origin.
If you’re interested in enjoying the picnic atmosphere with your family next Sunday, you may wish to attend the Confratellanza Italo-Canadese picnic at Beaconsfield Park located in the south end of the Italian Cultural Centre property or The Italian Mutual Aid Society’s picnic at the rear of the Roma Hall, New Westminster.

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