Carnival rides. Homemade food. Live entertainment. A good cause.
Those are just a few reasons to stop by the St. Kevin All American Festival, which kicks off Thursday and runs through Sept. 3. All funds raised will benefit the parish and school.
The event chair, Christopher Dias, a parishioner at St. Kevin Church, said there will be all sorts of fun for children and adults alike.
From the “Scrambler” to the merry-go-round, the rides are sure to please. But Dias said one ride in particular is guaranteed to thrill.
“The coolest ride we have, which is back by popular demand, is the Gravitron,” said Dias, who owns Tech 911, a local computer repair company in Conimicut. “Then, there’s the Ferris Wheel if you want to take a quick look of Warwick, and assorted rides for children, such as a bounce house and an obstacle course.”
The one thing that separates St. Kevin’s event from similar feasts and festivals, said Dias, is the fact that it is family-oriented. Guests are being offered a special deal on ride-all-day wristbands for $25, as well as holding raffles for Boston Red Sox tickets and more.
They will also be paying tribute to military veterans, Warwick mayors and former parish priests throughout the event.
Thursday night marks “Military Night.” Veterans and their families will receive 50 percent off at the event. Chaplin Coronal Monsignor Mark Rowan of the U.S. Air Force will be honored that night. He has been deployed to the Middle East 13 times.
“He’s quite a hero,” said Rev. Fr. Robert Marciano, the parish pastor.
Marciano, who recently returned to St. Kevin after 20 years, said Rowan is a good friend from school. After departing from St. Kevin in 1994, Marciano, affectionately known as “Father Bob” to his parishioners, was named pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church, which later merged with St. Clement Church to become Sts. Rose and Clement, where he served for 12 years. He later served at the Pentagon, as well as Bryant University.
Now, he is back at St. Kevin’s and can’t wait for the festival.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “The parish is as vibrant as ever. They are wonderful people.”
His parishioners feel the same about him, especially Dias.
“He’s awesome,” Dias said of Fr. Marciano. “I’ve never worked with anyone who has so much energy. He’s got such an unbelievable connection with the parish – everyone who hasn’t been around is coming back. It’s been a great experience.”
Saturday night is dedicated to Warwick mayors. Dias said it would be a great opportunity for Mayor Scott Avedisian to connect with the community at St. Kevin, and Avedisian agrees.
“Fr. Bob is an old friend and … I want to be there to welcome him to his new parish, to greet his congregation and to help raise money for his church and their school,” Avedisian said yesterday in an email. “[He] is a kind spiritual leader and I am happy to assist him as he assumes his new duties at St. Kevin.”
Avedisian will get the chance to honor Fr. Marciano Monday night, as will everyone else, as Monday is “Padre’s Night.” All former priests of the parish have been invited to celebrate one another.
“Some of them are away, but about a half a dozen will be coming, which will be great,” Fr. Marciano said.
Also, Thursday night promises live entertainment from Clear Blue, a local band, which will be playing from 7 to 11 p.m.
Music will be provided by DJ Precision Sound Friday night, while DJ Joe Martino will be entertaining the crowd throughout the weekend.
And let’s not forget about the food.
“We’re cooking all the food on church grounds,” Dias said. “We’ll have sausage and peppers with onions, meatballs, hamburgers, hot dogs, calzones, assorted bake sale goodies, [and] a pastry booth with cider and warm apple crisp.”
The carnival company will provide cotton candy, iced cold, fresh squeezed lemonade, and candy apples.
“All the ‘go-see-the-dentist’ stuff,” Dias said with a laugh.
This will be the third festival the parish has hosted, as one was held in the spring, and another took place last year. So far, they’ve raised about $16,500, which is good news for the school.
“We will be opening the doors with more students than last year,” Marciano said. “We’ve done very well at recruiting new students. The dioceses hoped we’d have 140 children coming back this year and we probably have more than 150, maybe even 160.”
For Dias, who formerly helped plan St. Rocco’s Feast in Johnston for more than a decade before relocating to Warwick, planning the event takes a lot of effort, but it’s worth every minute.
“It’s satisfying at the end of the day,” he said. “I’m like a little kid – I go to Disney World once a year and I really enjoy the rides and seeing all the kids around. We do a lot of different things to include the children, like the Cha-Cha-Slide competition. We get them dancing and give free ride tickets to whoever does the best.”
Speaking of children, Dias and his wife, Kelli, have a 10-month-old son, Benjamin. They are expecting another child in November, as Kelli is sixth months pregnant.
“Family is really important to me and I want my kids to have a good community,” he said.
But he knows it’s not all about him and his loved ones.
“I just want people to come down and meet other members of the community,” Dias said. “Whether you’re Catholic, Jewish or have no faith, it’s about getting the community together. That’s the most important thing.”
The festival will take place rain or shine in the parish parking lot at 333 Sandy Lane. The hours of operation are: Thursday and Friday from 6 to 11 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 11 p.m.; and Monday from noon to 6 p.m.