Everyone is celebrating Spring, but for some it is not just the weather that lends excitement to the season. For the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival, it brings their first official event for the year 2016 to the forefront. That event is the WVIHF Spring Gala, an annual event that is highlighted by the announcement of the attendants on the Minor, Junior and Senior Courts – plus the revelation of who will reign as Regina Maria XXXVIII at this year’s Labor Weekend festival. The name of this lucky young woman will be revealed just prior to dinner being served at the Spring Gala.
According to Tyler Terango, Chairman of the WVIHF Board of Directors, the Spring Gala is going to be very well attended this year.
“Going by our reservations, I think this will be one of our biggest years in a long!” Terango stated. “We have about 400 reservations that have been made, and that too is cause for celebration. If this is any indication of the support we will have for this year’s festival, then it’s going to be a record year for us!”
Tyler explained that although the Spring Gala is the main focus of attention at present, the members of the WVIHF Board are also concentrating on the planning phases for other upcoming eventsand for the Festival itself.
“As always our three-day festival will bring lots of visitors to the Clarksburg area and the downtown streets, but one thing we are working on with a little different twist is our entertainment for this year,” he added. “Each year we seem to target a specific era of music for our headlining entertainment. We’ve featured the 70’s and 80’s music in the past, but this year there will be tribute to a little more of the 60’s music. Plus we’ll also have some traditional Italian music as well. We’ll be announcing more about this in the weeks to come.”
But right now, immediate attention is being directed towards the Spring Gala preparations. It is always a very elaborate, semi-formal evening, and this year’s event will be no exception. WVIHF Board member Rose Mazza is again in charge of coordinating the décor with the theme. This year’s theme, she said, is ‘Sul Ponte Vecchio’, for which the English translation is ‘On the Old Bridge’.
“The theme and the colors for our Gala is always left to the discretion of our new Regina Maria, and this was her choice for our event this weekend. She traveled to Italy last summer and she was left ‘star-struck’ by this beautiful old bridge, which is especially grand at night when it illuminates the entire area,” Mrs. Mazza explained.
Because Mrs. Mazza grew up in Italy and still travels there frequently to visit family, she agreed that it is one of the most beautiful sites that tourists can behold in Florence. She gave some of the history of this old bridge.
“The bridge ‘Ponte Vecchio’ dates back to the Roman Empire. Originally made of wood, it was destroyed by a flood in the year 1333. But in 1345, it was rebuilt again and looks today much the same as it originally did – except that it is made out of stone now,” she noted. “There are three arched bridges underneath and they all reflect in the water. During World War II when the Germans invaded Italy, there were going to destroy it, but they spared the bridge. However, they destroyed both buildings on the side of the bridge. Today the bridge is lined with all sorts of shops where people will find leather goods, jewelry, the finest handcrafted items and lots of top name designer clothing such as Versace and Valentino. It is tagged as one of the most famous places in Italy, and people who visit Florence always visit this site because the view is amazing – one of the most picturesque anywhere! I can see why it left such a distinct impression on the young lady who will be our 2016 Regina Maria!”
Mazza said that although she did consider it, she decided that trying to duplicate this bridge as part of the Gala’s décor was out of the question! But they will be utilizing the new queen’s favorite colors – pinks and pale green – and lots of glitz!
“We can, however, mimic the sparkling lights that illuminate the bridge at night and reflect in the water. And tables will be adorned with jewelry cases filled with jewels. We’ll have display cases of jewelry throughout the ballroom as well. And I have prepared a pamphlet that will feature Ponte Vecchio and some of its marvelous history and those will be placed at each table setting.”
As is customary, this year’s annual Spring Gala (to be held this Saturday evening) will be held at Village Square Conference Center in Clarksburg. The evening begins with cocktails at 5:30 (cash bar). Everyone will be seated by 6 p.m. for the introduction of Shinnston resident Chelsea Boyles, who reigned at Regina Maria XXXVII. Then the 24 members of the Minor Court, the nine members of the Junior Court, the members of the Senior Court will then be presented, followed by the announcement of the Maids of Honor and Regina Maria XXXVIII.
Hors d’oeuvres and a lavish dinner (Italian cuisine, of course) will be served at 7:30 p.m. Music by AMICI and dancing from 8 to 11 p.m. will conclude the evening.
Look forward to more announcements regarding the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival, which will celebrate its 38th anniversary this year. The event is rated among the top four Italian Festivals in the nation. The three-day festival will be held in Uptown Clarksburg on September 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Mark your calendars and plan to attend this annual event on Labor Day Weekend.