July 17, 2012 § 1 Comment
Yesterday I decided to take the train into my hometown to attend the last night of the 137th Our Lady of Mount Carmel Festival, which is apparently the longest running Italian festival in the United States.
It all began in 1875 at 232 Pine Road, at the home of Antonio Capelli. There, he, along with a small group of fellow immigrants, prayed in front of a painting of the Virgin Mary. They also formed a procession in front of the home. They prayed in thanks— for their safe journey to America, for a successful farming season, and for the blessings and good fortune found in their new home of Hammonton.
The procession still takes place on the feast day (the 16th of July), though is much smaller than previous years. I was happy to make it into town on the train for the very end of it however, as I hadn’t seen the actual procession in many years. As a kid the main focus was of course the fact that a carnival was set up in the middle of town for an entire week. Yay, rides put together in a day! But I rode them all hundreds of times and still live to tell the really boring tale. At this point in time the only carnival attraction I had much interest in was the “World’s Smallest Horse” booth, but only because it reminded me of Li’l Sebastian (RIP).
My main reason for attending this event? THE FOOD. Food is however my main reason to attend most events, unless the beer is more awesome than the food. This is NOT the case for the event, though I did have a Yuengling in the beer tent. And I’m pretty sure Yuengling might actually be a newer addition to the beer tent, which from what I remembered only sold pitchers of Coors Light in the past along with some Smirnoff Ice. Yeah. Anyway, if you want some form of pork on a roll this is your place! I had half of a roast pork, provolone, and broccoli rabe sandwich, which in my humble sandwich obsessed opinion is the Philadelphia/South Jersey area’s best sandwich offering and half of an Italian sausage, pepper, and onion sandwich. I have not had either in years because I haven’t really been a meat eater much of my adult life (complicated relationship there) so I definitely enjoyed every bite of each.
I also had some Italian cookies and funnel cake. Then afterward I went over to Royale Crown Custard with my mom, which is now another thing I can cross off my summer bucket list. Royale Crown makes all kinds of ice creams in-house, but the main draw (again in my opinion) is the custard, which is creamier than you can possibly imagine. I got a waffle cone with vanilla custard, rainbow sprinkles, and some crunchy things. I wish I would have just gotten sprinkles as those crunchy things are not nearly as good as I remember them being. Ah well, I’ll have to remember that for next year. This is really the best soft serve I have ever had. Nothing else compares and therefore I can’t really eat it other places (but I still might).
Overall it was a fun, nostalgic night back home. I even got to see the fireworks display at the end of the night. I was glad I made the trip down there, though I think my stomach might not have been.