For Shenandoah Church, a Final Festival Begins

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SHENANDOAH-- The dough is frying, the porketta is piping hot, and the bake sale is full of tempting treats.

At Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Schuylkill County, the 100th anniversary festival is finally underway.

Parishioners are savoring every moment.

At the end of the month, the church will close as parishes in Shenandoah consolidate.

"We are working and thinking, this will be the last time we will be together in this kitchen," said Jim Pellegrino, the head cook.

Volunteers from nearby churches are lending a hand to make this a sweet finale.  Sharon Sadusky is a member of St. Stanislaus.

"I grew up with a lot of them, I hung around their houses, I just want to help, it is my hometown," said Sadusky.

A sign says,"The nicest people have a root in the boot."

For a century the church has been at the heart of Shenandoah's Italian community, and organizers said  that if they are going out, they are going out with a bang.

Shenandoah natives from across the U.S. are expected to attend.

Jim Rutkowski made the trip from Selinsgrove.

"I had a lot of friends in the Italian church, and it is part of my heritage," said Rutkowski.

Money from the festival will go to the new church, a gift from the past to the future.

Albert Bindie said that the church has been part of every phase of his life since he was born.

"Knowing it is the last time makes this sad, it is not only an Italian tradition, it is a Shenandoah tradition," said Bindie.

"There are going to be a lot of tears shed because it is going to be our last feast, it has been a part of all of our lives since we were babies, and it is going to be heartbreaking to see it end," said Kelly Donachak.

The feast and festival continue through the weekend.

On Sunday following mass there will be a procession where the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel statue is carried through the streets of Shenandoah.

The event wraps up with fireworks Sunday night.