Patchogue’s annual Italian heritage celebration — the Saint Liberata Festival — is getting a new look this year.
On Sunday, Sept. 13, the Saint Liberata Festival will be highlighted at Patchogue’s weekly Sundays in the Streets event.
The Patchogue-Medford Library will be also offer online programing and Italian heritage activities.
David Kennedy, executive director of the Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, said it is important to continue the village’s long-standing tradition.
“It’s a great way how we keep this spirit of this wonderful way we celebrate our Italian heritage, which is very important to Patchogue,” Kennedy said. “It’s important that we continue this tradition that goes back to those early days.”
Kennedy said although this is a different type of celebration that what Patchogue is used to, it is a way to adapt to the world we are living in right now.
The Saint Liberata Festival dates back to the 1920s and 1930s when a group of Italians from the same community in Naples, Italy, immigrated to Patchogue. Many of these families were living where the Suffolk County 5th Precinct, located at 125 Waverly Ave., is today.
With their move to Long Island, they brought over the tradition of Saint Liberata — the patron saint of Pizzone, Italy, and declared holy virgin and martyr of the Roman Catholic Church.
“They brought that tradition of this saint to our community and they would do it every year with a festival and a carnival,” Kennedy said.
This tradition stopped around the 1960s when many families moved away from the area. Kennedy said it wasn’t until the early 2000s when the original paraded statue of Saint Liberata was found, and the tradition was resurrected once again.
The festival includes an array of traditional Italian dishes, live music, and Kennedy said every year the group nominates an Italian-American of the year to honor at the event.
This year, however, the festival is going pandemic-friendly.
“Certainly social distancing guidelines don’t allow us to celebrate it in the same way,” Kennedy said. “We were looking to take a pass this year, but in came Patchogue-Medford Library and Laura Accardi, who herself is of Italian heritage, loves this event, and wanted to see how we can continue it in some way.”
Kennedy said in addition to the online library program, Sundays In The Street — the weekly summer dining event in Patchogue — will make one of those Sundays “a Saint Liberata edition.”
“We thought why couldn’t we make one of those Sundays a theme for Saint Liberata,” he said. “We are asking the restaurants to have a Saint Liberata special and a dish that we could highlight, as well as include some of the Italian singers we always feature every year.”
Unfortunately, there won’t be an Italian-American of the Year honoree, but Kennedy said there is another important group of people Patchogue would like to celebrate.
“We are going to use this event to celebrate our hospital workers, frontlines workers, our ambulance company, and all those people who really led the charge to get us through this pandemic,” Kennedy said. “This is our first opportunity, kind of in a big way, to celebrate them.”
For more updates on the virtual Saint Liberata Festival and Sept. 13 event, visit the Patchogue Chamber of Commerce.