Festa Italiana–Riverside California

Downtown Riverside’s White Park looked immaculate last Sunday. Clean white tents pitched on well-manicured green grass made it so inviting.

By the time I could make out the lively tunes of the famous Italian American singers like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, I could also smell the Risotto, Lasagna, pizza and corn on the cob.

The entry fee of $7 per adult, was very reasonable. Parking was free since we parked on the street.

Banners and flags of green, red and white, the colors of the Italian flag, decorated the length of the walkway from the gate through the fountain and past the gazebo.

Pietro dressed in a tuxedo sang some beautiful songs in Italian for the audience.

Music was by far the biggest draw.

The crowd that gathered around the gazebo which served as a “stage.”

KFI radio news director and master of ceremony of the festa Chris Little mentioned how last year’s event was almost marred by the pesky Santa Ana winds.

Little encouraged the crowd to visit the fine collection of Italian cars that were put on display by Doug Magnon from the Riverside International Automotive Museum.

Accordian player Joe Martino played a beautiful rendition of the Love Theme from “The Godfather.”

He followed it up with an uptempo Hebrew folk song “Hava Nagila.” (Let us rejoice)

Dean Martin impersonator Gilbert Gauthier leads an audience member by the arm.

Before signing off he quipped “If you don’t like my music, my name is Paco. If you do, it’s Joe Martino.”

I don’t recall the exact order of the performers since I was busy taking pictures, but I recall seeing a handsome man in tux by the name of Pietro belting out some Italian songs.

He was followed by Dean Martin impersonator Gilbert Gauthier.

Gauthier picked out a chair, and a young lady in the crowd, escorted her by the arm, seated her and proceeded to serenade her.

Watch some very fine singing from these two ladies by mousing over the link below:


(l to r) Gina Ruggiero and Gina Iaccavino sang opera next.


Pete Wilcox, who looked like an Elvis impersonator in a pink suit sang some tunes from Perry Como and Bobby Darin.

At this point some of members of the audience starting dancing.

And some were very taken with Wilcox’s persona.

What made this a very relaxed outing for the family was the way the park was enclosed and sealed off all around.

Parents could actually relax and let their kids run around because of the large open areas.

There were 2 Bocce ball areas and activities like face-painting, sidewalk chalk drawing and other crafts for young ones.

I hope the event raised enough money that this will continue annually.

Riverside so badly need small festivals like this.

With today’s gas prices it’s nice not to have to travel far or pay a lot to have a relaxing day with family.

Please leave a comment or email me if I made an error anywhere. I was too busy taking stills and also shooting a little video to take good notes.

Most of these pictures were taken with my 80-200 zoom. Events like this are so much fun. Everyone has a great time and best of all, no one  minds being photographed.

10 thoughts on “Festa Italiana–Riverside California”

  1. I’m sorry I did’nt make it this year, so I will try to be there next….It really looks like everyone was having a GREAT time.Hi DAD and Gabe

  2. Grace,
    How sweet of you! I’m so glad you let me know the Festa is on next month. I will be there. I will get my students to come too. Make an assignment out of it for them.

    Best regards,

  3. I sure hope that you will be at the Festa Italiana again ths year
    on October 18th, 2009. My Sons of Italy Lodge will be having a
    “sausages and peppers” booth. Come by and have a sandwich on me.
    Hope to see you there.

    Grace Iacovino, President of the Desert Valley Lodge #2352

  4. Hi Grace,
    I really appreciate your visiting my blog and commenting. Your daughter and the other Regina sang so exquisitely. I was happy to be able to record it and share it with others.

    Please share the link above with your friends and family.

  5. Thank you for the beautiful taping of my daughter, Regina Iacovino,singing a duet with Gina Ruggiero. Your pictures & recordings were great! Hope to see you at the Italian Festa next year.

  6. I would just like to say I had a great time Sunday, and that this may have been the best Festa yet. Son’s of Italy event committee did a great job, and special thanks to Gabe Domenici Sr. and Bill Colacino for all their hard work in putting together a Phenomenal event. Looking forward to next year.

  7. Pete,
    You did a beautifull job with the pictures and the site. I cannot tell you how proud I am of our small Corona lodge and its members for their help and support. The Festa committee is to be commended for an outstanding production. The entertainers were fantastic and Chris Little was an excellent Master of Ceremonies.Everyone I talk to just raves about the Festa. We will be back next year, and with everyones help, bigger and better.
    I think the event mirrored how proud Italians are of their Heritage and culture and whyy they should be.
    Gabe Domenici
    Order Sons of Italy in America
    Sgt John Basilone Lodge #2748

  8. Bill,
    Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting. My family and I enjoyed the event. From the looks of my pictures, it looked like I wasn’t the only one who had a grand time.

  9. That was a great write up and we are so glad everyone had a fun day. We will be back next year and hope for bigger and better things ! The Sons of Italy Sgt John Basilone Lodge # 2748 in Corona poured its heart and soul into this event ! We thank everyone for participating and we welcome comments !
    William Colacino
    Sgt John Basilone Lodge # 2748
    Founder / Past President
    Event committee

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