Oar carriers wanted for Sunday procession

·2 min read

Jun. 23—For those looking to ease into the tradition of St. Peter's Fiesta, Tom Aiello and a group of friends from down the Fort offer a way.

Twenty years ago, Aiello and his pals decided to revive a tradition missing from St. Peter's Fiesta's Sunday procession that they took part in as children. and after COVID-19 forced a two-year Fiesta hiatus, they are looking to keep it going this year, but they need some help.

As part of the 95th St. Peter's Fiesta, which opened Wednesday for its annual five-day run in and around St. Peter's Square, Aiello and his friends are planning this year's traditional carrying of the oars as part of Sunday's procession that follows the outdoor Mass.

The oars represent past and present boats in Gloucester's fleet, as well the families that owned them and the families of the crew that served on them.

"There are more than hundred out there," Aiello said of the oars. "More than half the families keep them at home, then bring them out. I expect we'll have 50 to 75. I hoping for a nice turnout, but we've haven't done it in a while.

That's why Aeillo is putting out the call for carriers.

"I probably have 20 to 30 people committed, but you never know. It's been about three years," adding he always worries about having enough carriers.

"Anyone can do it. It's mostly kids but I have adults who do it too," he said. "It pays homage to our fishing heritage, and it's an easy way to be part of a Gloucester tradition."

Carriers are asked to wear a white shirt, keeping the spirit of those carriers of long ago who wore crisply pressed white shirts and pants, although they don't have to, Aeillo said.

Aiello has been watching the forecast and temperatures are expected to be high.

"It's gonna be hot on Sunday. We'll have plenty of water on hand for the kids."

Aiello said anyone wanting to get an oar representing their fishing boat in the procession is "absolutely welcome," and may contact him for more information at 508-284-9461.

Anyone interested in being a carrier can call Aiello or just show up on Rogers Street across from the St. Peter's Club, near the front of the old Cape Ann Brewing Co., 11 Rogers St., and just to the side of the Fiesta altar and stage at St. Peter's Square, around 11 a.m. Sunday.

Andrea Holbrook may be contacted at 978-675-2713 or aholbrook@gloucestertimes.com.