By Marjorie Nesin
---- — Gloucester’s 86th edition of St. Peter’s Fiesta opened with a downpour of rain that soaked the metal rides and left droplets of water reflecting on flashing neon lights.
But that precipitation failed to prevent Gloucester families and teens from flocking to St. Peter’s Square, some running through a knee high puddle on Commercial Street, to spin to their delight on carnival rides and feast on fried creations.
A pair of brothers, 5 and 6 years-old, clutched their mom’s hands, tugging her forward down Rogers Street toward the rides and games just before 7 p.m.
“Here we go to Fiesta,” Thomas Cribbs cried out, leaning into the breeze.
Thomas and his older brother Andrew have anxiously waited out each day leading up to Fiesta, their mother Carolyn said. The last hour of waiting, staying home until the rain that poured out at the 6 p.m. start cleared up a bit, was an anxious wait, their father Joseph said.
“We’ve been driving by every day to go to the babysitter’s and first the tents went up, then the ride, then it was ‘daddy it’s time!’,” Joseph Cribbs said.
April Goulart and her 12-year-old daughter, Fallon Carlson, arrived at the big tents before technicians even switched on the rides. Then, when the first downpour hit hard at 6 p.m., the pair waited out the rain beneath one of the game tents.
While Carlson has celebrated the first night of Fiesta atop rides and under tents for the past three or four years, this year seemed extra special as she had just written a report on the celebration for her 7th grade class at O’Maley.
“Now to kids like me it’s for games and fun, but when the woman created it, she created it to move the statue that she had put in the heart of the of the city that had enchanted the hearts of the people,” Carlson recited, her hands folded in front of jean shorts.
“It’s changed,” she added, before zipping off for a run through the Magic Maze.
While the Ferris Wheel saw few riders Wednesday night, kids lined up screaming and smiling despite their soaked hair, clothes and shoes at a spinning creation called the Freak Out, and at a circular track of cars zipping backwards named Thunder Bolt.
Kaitlyn Muise and her friend Caroline Burke came from out of town to celebrate Fiesta and visit 17-year-old Muise’s father, who lives on Shepherd Street. The two used coupons to buy the $25 wristbands with a $5 discount ahead of time and figured they would head over despite the weather and try some rides, including the popular Freak Out.
“It was sort of drizzling while we were in line, then it started down pouring the second we got on,” Muise said.
“It was like hail in your face!” Burke exclaimed.
The two sat beneath a tent, snacking on french fries and mozzarella sticks and waiting out a bit of post-ride nausea and a second drizzle of rain — before hopping right back in line.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.