To kick off Preservation Williamsport's 15th annual Victorian Christmas, an Italian-American heritage dinner will be held at the Sons of Italy, 144 E. Fourth St. It will begin at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and is open to the public.
The theme for the 15-year milestone is the Italian heritage of Williamsport, so the kickoff at Sons of Italy is an appropriate one.
Many prominent members of the community who have an Italian background, whether it be their own or their ancestors, will tell audience members their stories of struggle and prosperity in migrating from "the old country" and what life was like in the early years of Williamsport, when it was still divided by ethnic groups.
Shown from left in front of the Mulberry Street Cafe are Antoinette Casale, Denise Aderhold (owner of the cafe), Neil Casale and Peachie O’Connor.
Neil Casale, owner of the building that Mulberry Street Cafe (owner of the cafe is Denise Aderhold) resides in, will be among those presenting.
According to Casale, the Italian section of Williamsport spanned east to west from Chadham Street to Hepburn Street, and north to south from Via Bella (originally Front Street) to Third Street. Now, however, there only is one block left.
"A lot of younger people want to know what transpired in this neighborhood," Casale said.
His presentation at the pasta dinner will touch on such subjects.
"I'm going to present the area that the Italian section was in Williamsport and what's left of it, which isn't much, and also discuss some of the people that have been very successful coming out of that Italian neighborhood," Casale said.
Casale's parents were both Italian and have been in this area for 70 years.
"It goes way back. The Italian people that came here were very instrumental in making this community the community that it is - doctors, lawyers - parents all worked hard to educate them," he said.
He also noted that the dinner also will be an opportunity for people to ask questions.
Other potential presenters include Father Mano, Dr. Ciccarelli, Bab Elion, Vicki Taddeo, State Rep. Rick Mirabito, U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, Tony DiSalvo Sr., Mayor Gabriel Campana and others.
The event is casual with free admission, though there is a cost for the pasta-and-meatball dinner.
"I'm proud to be a part of this committee that is bringing such a worthwhile event, especially this year when it's about Italian family heritage," said Peachie O'Connor, the organizer of the dinner.