SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The annual Mass in Italian at the St. Bart's Festival (2032 Westfield Ave., Scotch Plains) took a poignant turn as Renato Biribin, one of the founders of the event 45 years ago, was remembered. A highlight of was his daughter Marianna's beautiful rendition of Ave Maria.  

Biribin was a former National President of UNICO, the Italian-American service organization that co-sponsors the festival. He helped charter the Scotch Plains chapter of UNICO in 1973. A beloved figure in the community, he died in April 2019 at age 79. For many years, Biribin was a fixture selling 50/50 raffle tickets Labor Day Weekend and also was a successful attorney and an active volunteer with numerous groups.

Following the Mass was the annual procession honoring St. Bartholomew the Apostle and St. Nicola di Bari, patron saint of Montazzoli, Italian. The procession featured music by Mike Aromando and the Metropolitan Italian Strolling Band, which played traditional Italian music. Later, Elvis impersonator Mark Reno took the stage. 

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Among the attendees were local celebrities actor and stand-up comedian Mike Marino, a Scotch Plains native, and actor Garry Pastore, who has made a career out of playing Italian American characters on TV and in films. The two are in town because Hurricane Dorian's approach toward the Florida coast postponed the premier of their new mini-series Silent Partners, which was filmed in South Florida and in Scotch Plains. (Story continues after videos)

Following the Mass came the annual procession 

St. Bart's Italian American Festival
Sunday, August 31: 4:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 1: 3:00 to 8:00 p.m.

St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church
2032 Westfield Ave.
Scotch Plains, NJ
(908) 322-5192
https://sbuitalianfestival.com

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