CLEVELAND, Ohio — Yes, there’s cannoli and pizza and gelato and cavatelli and Italian music and flags for sale and more “Parking for Italians Only” and “Sopranos” T-shirts than you can count.
But the 116th Feast of the Assumption is about much more than food – albeit great food – and ethnic pride. It’s called a Feast, not a fest, for a reason. The Feast celebrates one of the most important Catholic holidays of the year, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. The tradition was brought to Cleveland’s Little Italy area by immigrants in the late 1800s, many from towns in Italy’s Abruzzi region.
The Feast begins and ends with a solemn Mass and procession honoring the Virgin Mary. Even if you are not religious, these are moving sights to behold – especially the opening procession.
Thousands of area Italians, Catholics and others line Mayfield Road, many in costumes representing the various areas of Italy from which their ancestors emigrated, following as Mary is carried aloft down the street, surrounded by recent First Communicants. This year’s procession follows the 10 a.m. Mass on Friday, Aug. 15, at Holy Rosary Church.
The fest opens the evening before from 6 to 10 p.m. with rides, games and food at Holy Rosary, and vendors up and down Mayfield and Murray Hill roads, which will be closed to traffic. That’s where you’ll find your cannoli and pizza and gelato and cavatelli and Italian music and flags and T-shirts – not to mention cappuccino, vino (in designated areas), eggplant rollettes, artichokes and more.
You’ll also find even more upscale offerings such as premium cigars at Mayfield Smoke Shop and lovely imported housewares at La Bella Vita on Murray Hill Road. Strolling musicians and bands will also be featured up and down the streets throughout Feast, which will be capped by an evening procession at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 17, followed by fireworks at Tony Brush Park.
All in all, one of Cleveland’s biggest and longest-running summer events is a great party, a great way to explore one of Cleveland’s most interesting ethnic areas – and much more.
2014 Feast of the Assumption Hours:
Thursday, Aug. 14 – 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 15 – noon to midnight (Solemn Mass at 10 a.m./procession following Mass)
Saturday, Aug. 16 – noon to midnight
Sunday, Aug. 17 – noon to 11 p.m.