Whistles blew, and the statue bearers dressed all in white gracefully hoisted Gloucester’s iconic image of St. Peter to shouts of “Viva San Pietro” in a bright Sunday morning ceremony that celebrated the patron saint of fishermen — and kicked off the beginning of the end of this year’s St. Peter’s Fiesta.
Thousands of people flooded the intersection of Tally’s corner at Main, Rogers, Washington and Commercial streets to see the statue depart the blue and gold altar and stage in St. Peter’s Square, and parade through Gloucester’s streets. A departure from the usual Italian color scheme of red and green, the color arrangement was meant in part as a tribute to those who were killed and injured in the Boston Marathon bombings earlier this year, said Fiesta Committee member Anthony Cusumano.
In many ways, St. Peter’s blessing was clear from the start Sunday, when the Fiesta came to a close with the street procession, the annual Outdoor Mass (see related story), the Blessing of the Fleet, and athletic classics like the Greasy Pole Walk of Champions and the final seine boat races. While forecasters had predicted morning precipitation, there was no such rain in sight — and nothing could have rained on Sunday’s parade anyway.
”Did you see the forecast? Look at the weather now,” said Gloucester resident Scott Guyer, standing along Rogers Street as the parade began.
”All I can say is, thank God, St. Peter cleared the clouds,” said Gloucester state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, who watched from in front of the Mother of Grace Club in Washington Street.
As the fanfare began, parade attendees said one of the most important aspects of Fiesta was the sense of community involvement and the history of the holy festival, which just ended its 86th year.