Fiesta organizers balance the books

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff photo. Riders react to going backwards on the Arctic Blast ride during Wednesday's opening night at the carnival in St. Peter's Square as 2017 St. Peters' Fiesta kicked off. The carnival is a main source of revenue for the committee that puts on St. Peter's Fiesta.

Before the St. Peter's Fiesta Committee prepares for next year's 91st edition — let alone for the 100th and others expected to follow —- one of the first chores will be an assessment of the bills and revenues from this past week's 90th celebration.

Costs are expected to run as high as $150,000, committee President Joe Novello and secretary Lucia Sheehan said Monday.

The bills include payments made to the various marching bands who participated in Sunday's Procession of St. Peter, and the nightly and weekend entertainment acts that graced the main altar and stage.

The highest single cost is for insurance — an estimated $14,000 expense that included a provision for terrorism coverage, Sheehan said. Then there's a $12,500 cost for construction work at the Fiesta site, another $2,500 for the leasing of portable toilet facilities and added security detail costs — on top of the $40,135 budgeted for Gloucester Police Department detail and overtime work paid by the city.

The city regularly had up to 15 officers on patrol at Fiesta Thursday through Sunday nights, interim police Chief John McCarthy said Monday. Added details included six Massachusetts state troopers and a pair of deputies with a transport van from the Essex Sheriff's Department.

"There's a lot to it, and a lot of expense the public probably doesn't even think about," Sheehan said. She said the committee tries to set aside enough money each year to be able to run one more Fiesta "in case something terrible happened," but she said any carryover amount is less than $100,000.

Novello noted that the bulk of Fiesta's revenue comes through the estimated $80,000 to $85,000 reeled in through both a contract and nightly percentage revenues from the Fiesta Shows carnival. Fiesta Show, which is based in Seabrook, New Hampshire, has supplied Gloucester's Fiesta with carnival rides and games for the last 10 years.

Other Fiesta revenue comes through local business sponsorships and a smattering of fund-raisers run by different groups over the course of the year.

"A lot of people pitch in to make this work," Novello said. "We get a lot of support, and we're very grateful for it."

Staff writer Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705, or via email at

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