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16th Annual Italian American Summer Festival

On Friday, July 1st, we did our first day of tabling at the 16th Annual Italian American Summer Festival at the Berea IMG_2647Fairgrounds. We set up our booth at the far end of the fairgrounds next to those of "Stanck Windows", "Renewal by Andersen", "Bath Planet of Northeast Ohio", and the inflatables where the children play.

The representative from "Bath Planet" was Ms. Michell Spoden, a socially conscious individual who also likes to blog. We talked to her for a while and learned that a few years ago she volunteered with Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services. She helped a family from Turkey get acclimated to the culture of the United States and found it to be a very rewarding experience and they are all still friends to this day.

We took a walk around and, near the stage where entertainers performed, met Mr. John Toth and visited with him for a while. Mr. Toth brightened when he learned that we worked with Margaret W. Wong and Associates because he is very actively involved in the Middleburg Heights Community Church which helps people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo settle in the United States. We were happy to exchange contact information with him.

We were hungry so we stopped by the "Perla Pierogies" booth where we bought a delectably crisp potato and cheese perogi from Mr. David Serban; the co-owner along with his younger brother Daniel; who told us that he immigrated to the United States from IMG_2639Romania about 25 years ago. He gave us information about his business which is located in Parma and (trust us on this because we will drive a distance for a good pierogi) we plan to visit it soon.

We also stopped off at the booth belonging to the "Casa Italia Foundation" which promotes the Italian culture in Northeast Ohio. They are preparing to conduct the 19th Annual Miss Italia of Ohio Pageant in October. Later inthe evening, Ms. Angela Grossi, the current Ms. Italia, stopped by our booth to say hello accompanied by Ms. Ida, a really nice lady who, as we learned, immigrated to the United States from Italy in 1956. Ida thought that Ms. Margaret W. Wong may have helped her and some friends out on a project years ago so, naturally, Ms. Ida was very curious about Ms. Wong's book, "The Immigrant's Way" thus we saw to it that when she left our booth she took a copy with her.


On Saturday, July 2nd, we returned to the fairgrounds to put in another day of tabling. One of the first people we talked to was Mr. Donato Cristillo, the President of  the "Casa Italia Foundation" who organized the festival. We talked to him for a few minutes and learned that he was first generation American; both his parents immigrated to the United States back in the 1950's.

After we set up for the day, we spoke with one of our neighboring vendors, Mr. Rafia Jones who was there working for "Jones Brothers BBQ." Mr. Jones shared our unhappiness about some of the things that Mr. Donald Trump has been saying about immigrants but acknowledged that, inadvertently on Mr. Trump's part, he is bringing a lot of people together in a positive way such as the gatherings that we have attended in which representatives from different religions share their beliefs which has taught how similar a lot of them are. Thankfully, Mr. Jones was firm in his viewpoint that regardless of race and/or faith, we are all human beings and vulnerable to both physical and emotional pain.

As we sat there throughout the day, several people came by including a woman, in her late 30's or early 40's, who told us that she immigrated to the United States from Ireland when she was only four years old and then used her hands to show how thick the paperwork involved was (i.e. it looked as though it was a foot) which made us wonder how thick it would be in this day and age.

Another woman said that her husband was initially born in Hungary but immigrated here via Germany in 1953. They were very surprised a few years ago when a distant relative tracked him down so they learned that there was still family alive in back in Europe.

Also the sister of our good friend, Judge Ralph Perk, Jr., named Ginny stopped by to say hello and asked if we IMG_2632planned to attend the American Nationalities Movement banquet which will be held in the next couple of weeks and we assured her that we had already mailed in our money.

Towards the end of the day, we talked with Mr. Kali Robertson who was tabling at "Bath Planet" about what would be the consequences if a United States citizen renounced his citizenship. Mr. Robertson obtained a copy of Ms. Wong's book because he seemed genuinely interested in the issues that Ms. Wong wrote about.

As for Ms. Ida, the lady who stopped by on Friday, she came back on Saturday to tell us that it was not Ms. Wong who helped on her project after all (she checked up on it) but was still glad that she got a copy of "The Immigrant's Way" because she had been leafing through it and thought that it contained things that made sense. Ms. Ida believed that it was time for all of the different ethnicities to come together and work together. She mentioned that she didn't care for either of the two leading candidates for the U.S. Presidency and would like it if Ms. Wong were running instead. Unfortunately, as a naturalized citizen, Ms. Wong is not eligible to run for President but we still thanked Ms. Ida for her complement.


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC


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