Rotterdam’s annual festa kicked off with a booming band Friday that had everyone from ages 2 to 85 on their feet.
The festa, run by Our Lady Queen of Peace Church on Princetown Road, continues all weekend. On Friday, neighbors for blocks around walked to the event, while visitors lined the streets with parked cars.
Since the music could be heard for several blocks, neighbors said they might as well join in.
“I’ve gone every year since I was little,” said Krystal Benoit, who lives around the corner. “I used to love coming to get the pizza fritta.”
Now, the cavatelli appeals more than the fried dough, but her 2-year-old son might beg to differ. He was enjoying sips of a slushie as he danced to the music.
Not too far away, Louis Parente, 85, was dancing to the same music. He’s been coming to the festa for so long he’s lost count.
“Twenty-five or 30 years,” he said. “The entertainment is very good, and the feast is very good, too. And no troublemakers. Never see them.”
He was easily the oldest person on the dance floor, but he said he goes out dancing three to four times a week.
“You’ve got to keep moving or you wind up in a chair, and then you can’t get up,” he said.
Others came for the food.
“The good food,” corrected Saskia Cox, who was eating an eggplant sandwich as she effortlessly balanced her 5-year-old daughter, Stella, on one knee, even as the girl shouted and pointed at attractions.
Stella got a little sick on the rides, but her mother was hoping it was due to an empty stomach and that she could tolerate more spinning after a hearty meal.
Rides were $4 each, but those who plunked down $20 could ride all night. That was a popular choice for children and teenagers, while parents watched — and took the opportunity to eat in peace.
Food prices were reasonable, they said: $6 for generous helpings of sausage and peppers or cavatelli, $3 for fried dough and $2 for soda or bottled water. Thomas Bethel recommended the sausage and peppers as he enjoyed a few moments alone with his bride-to-be. The younger members of her family were on the rides, and they snuck away to eat together.
It was Bethel’s first time at the festa, but his fiancée, Elizabeth Isabella, lives nearby and attends every year. She introduced the festa to him.
Yes, there was good food and fun rides and great music, she said, but that didn’t keep her coming back to this particular festa.
“It’s the sense of community you feel here,” she said. “I think everybody in Rotterdam is here.”