Despite the rain throughout the weekend, the North End and North Adams baseball teams did their best to carry on the tradition of friendship and sportsmanship of the LaFesta Baseball Exchange.

After their long trip to Boston, our good friends from North Adams were greeted by heavy rain and thunderstorms last weekend, August 11th and 12th.

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However, the rain was not going to stop North End Against Drugs (NEAD) from providing a fun weekend for their friends in our sister city. Our original plan was to have lunch at the Mirabella pool concession stand, but that was not possible with the heavy rain so we went to plan B – which was developed on the fly!

A quick call over to Gary at Mangia Mangia had us set up for a nice lunch. We ate in shifts, but all were able to enjoy a fabulous lunch. Everyone was happy – a good chicken parm sub will do that for you!

Our next adventure was over to the movie theaters in Revere where the movie of the day was chosen to be MEG! While our friends from North Adams stayed dry and enjoyed the movie, plans were set in motion for a basketball showdown at the Nazzaro Center. Thanks to Acting Director Laurie D’Elia, a former NEAD Board member and also a veteran of several trips to North Adams with the Dodgers, the baseball players from both teams packed away their gloves and put on their sneakers to play several games of basketball.

Before they finished playing, the players and coaches from North Adams were greeted by City Councilor Lydia Edwards, who was one of the major sponsors for NEAD’s Family Festival. Councilor Edwards presented a citation to George Canales and his family, commemorating the 100th game of the exchange, played on July 21st in North Adams, and also for their generosity and hospitality to the Youth of the North End over the last 28 years.

Around 8 p.m., dinner arrived from Avellinos and approximately sixty participants of the LaFesta Exchange continued our tradition of having a great meal together. Players, coaches, NEAD board members, and trip organizers from both cities feasted on a nice dinner.

MVPs from the North Adams Game on July 21st.

After dinner, NEAD President John Romano presented each player and coach with a souvenir medal. Romano also presented a certificate to Mr. Canales and his family from Representative Michlewitz, who was unable to attend. Also, a special acknowledgment was given to Ralph Martignetti of the NEAA and his family for all of their hard work to ensure the youth of the North End have a great baseball program each year.

Luckily, the rain had stopped and, after dinner, the group from out west got to enjoy the Feast of Madonna Della Cava before heading back to their hotel.

Johnny “Mangia” Pagliuca, Joe Blazo and Mikey Fud at Breakfast at Mangia Mangia.

Sunday morning brought more rain, so the finale to the trip was a hearty breakfast at Mangia Mangia. Owner Gary Forziati opened up the place on his day off so that we could send our friends back home with a full belly. Cooking breakfast was Joe Blazo, who actually played in the very first game of the Exchange 29 years ago. Also stopping by was Massimo DiMeo, who also played in the first game. A special guest appearance was made by John Pagliuca, who jumped into his rightful place behind the grill to help Joey bang out all of the food. Senator Boncore, who could not attend due to another commitment, sent along a citation in the mail to the Canales family.

So despite the rain, the spirits of the group and the purpose of North End Against Drugs’ Family Fun Festival was not dampened, not even a little! “It’s All About Family” and what a family we have both in the North End and way out west in North Adams!

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