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June 24, 2013

City sets stage for 86th Fiesta

Organizers focus on families, vow 'zero tolerance' for rowdyism

The outdoor altar now dominates St. Peter’s Square, downtown businesses have their welcoming signs up, and the overhead street decorations along Commercial Street, Beach Court and the west end of Rogers Street suggest that something big is coming — and it is.

It’s Gloucester’s 86th St. Peter’s Fiesta, that annual salute to the patron saint of all fishermen and celebration of the city and its ethnic and marine economic roots.

And when Fiesta swings into full gear Wednesday evening, organizers are promising another year of poignant religious processions and ceremonies, family fun and entertainment with new kid-friendly ride bargains — and “zero tolerance” for the excessive drinking and trouble that has sometimes plagued the Fiestas of the past.

While one portion of Fiesta has been running for a week — the nine-day Novena of Prayer to St. Peter continues tonight and Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the American Legion Hall on Washington Street — the core of the festival opens Wednesday at 6 p.m. with the opening of the carnival, run by Salisbury-based Fiesta Shows.

Joe Novello, president of the St. Peter’s Fiesta Committee and a member of it since 1983, said he’s confident that this year’s event will be as good as ever.

“We always try to make it a family-oriented event — something that’s fun for everybody,” said Novello.

This year, in fact, Fiesta Shows is adding a deal of its own to reach out to kids and other midway riders. A number of downtown businesses and other Gloucester convenience stores have been given coupons offering $20 wristbands good for a full night of rides, not just on opening night, as in the past, but on Wednesday, Thursday and from 2 to 6 p.m. on Friday as well. The one-price ride wristbands will sell for $25 at Fiesta, Novello said.

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