Special pride was on display a number of times inside the Kelley-Gazzerro VFW Post 2812/Spirito’s Restaurant during an extraordinary celebration that marked the 110th anniversary of the famed …
Special pride was on display a number of times inside the Kelley-Gazzerro VFW Post 2812/Spirito’s Restaurant during an extraordinary celebration that marked the 110th anniversary of the famed Pannese Society of Rhode Island.
Upwards of 250 people celebrated their Italian heritage that dates back to 1909, when Giuseppe Anzevino came from the village of Panni in Foggia, Italy, and settled on Providence’s Federal Hill. Christiana Caprarelli sang both the American and Italian national anthems.
The event included food, centerpieces featuring the American and Italian flags, raffles with each prize totaling $110 and what folks called a celebration of the ages, backed by music from Ambrosiani.
Joseph Spremulli, 87, still leads the Italian-American non-profit and enjoys every minute of it.
“Some 110 years ago on Dec. 9, 1909, a charter for incorporation was granted by the State of Rhode Island for an Italian social organization named Societa Mutuo Soccorso Maria Santissima Del Bosco DiPanni,” Spremulli told an attentive audience. “We must never – ever – forget our Italian heritage and we must keep reinforcing it with our children.”
Spremulli, who resurrected the Pannese Society after it had been dormant for many years, continued: “We strive to promote the cultural, social and spiritual heritage by committee to preserve our ancestry for future generations through honoring our patroness La Madonna Del Bosco.”
Back in 2013, Spremulli had the famed La Madonna Del Bosco statute refinished, and it now has a permanent home inside Our Lady of Grace Church in Johnston.
The ageless Pannese president – whose wife Eleanor has served as president of the Pannese Women’s Auxiliary for 35 years – also heaped words of praise upon Louis Mansolillo. Mansolillo was the night’s master of ceremonies, who, along with his wife Susan, assisted the Christmas Celebration’s co-chairs, David and Lisa Venditelli.
The celebration was also highlighted, in part, when Mayor Jorge Elorza presented the Pannese Society with a special proclamation honoring the nonprofit.
The Rev. Peter J. Gower, pastor at Our Lady of Grace Church, delivered a heartfelt invocation and prayer, and he later kept his promise to dance with Eleanor Spremulli. Just a day earlier, Spremulli came home from a brief stay in the hospital.
“The Society was originally formed for the purpose of mutual and beneficial aid of the members with a desire to preserve the spirit of their roots and heritage from Panni, Foggia [in Italy],” the night’s program read. “These new immigrants were greatly credited for enriching the palate and cultural diversity of our community to the present day. We gather today to recognize their sacrifices and to celebrate their accomplishments and the worthy heritage of our Pannese Society and congratulate all of our members for their continued support.”
While David and Lisa Venditelli were applauded for their tireless efforts in leading the event, the committee also included Joe and Eleanor Spremulli, Mansolillo and trustee Andrea Paglia.