FORT LEE, N.J.– When 20 or so members of Fort Lee's Saint Rocco's Society carry the statue of their patron saint down Main Street next month, they'll be carrying a tradition that stretches back decades.
"It also demonstrates our devotion and thanks to our Patron Saint Rocco for all he did to those that where in need of healing, prayer and uplifting of their spiritual beliefs," said society Vice President Rocco Palaia.
The Saint Rocco Society's Italian Feast, which turns 87 this year, also features a spectacular fireworks show.
"The fireworks are just another way of celebrating our devotion to our Saint Rocco and also a way of giving a celebratory feeling to our community of Fort Lee and any other neighboring towns to hopefully bring some cheer and good spirits to everyone," Palaia said. "It's the same as when we celebrate the Fourth of July or any other holiday."
There will be food, live music, games, raffles and more.
Launching the feast on Aug. 3 will be Uncle Floyd and The Rummies, starting at 7:30 p.m.
DJ Express will provide the soundtrack on Aug. 4. Taxi will perform the next night at 7:30 p.m.
CRC Productions will provide live entertainment on the second to last night.
The final day will include a 9 a.m. Mass conducted in Italian in honor of Saint Rocco, mortar salutes at 2 p.m., the statue process at 4 -- accompanied by the Tony Neglia Band -- and music by R3 Entertainment to close out the feast.
The society begins preparing for the event months in advance -- securing dates, acquiring permits and booking vendors and entertainment.
"It's a collaborative effort," Palalai said.
Profits from the feast and other fundraising efforts will be donated to those in need.
The Saint Rocco Italian-American Mutual Aid Society was founded in 1927 by Italian immigrants from Calabria.
"Viva San Rocco!" Palaia said.