(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)
East Boston residents will celebrate the 23rd annual Eastie Pride Day on Saturday with live music, dancing, children’s activities, and a variety of food and drink.
This year’s event, with the theme “A Musical Reunion,” will feature performances by East Boston’s Pat Benti, Smokin’ Joe Cheffro and the Henchmen, and the Originals, an East Boston-based band from the late 1960s and early ’70s reuniting after four decades.
Celeste Ribeiro Myers, a member of the Eastie Pride Day Committee and a third-generation resident of the neighborhood, said the musical theme grew out of messages posted in Facebook groups set up for sharing memories of the neighborhood.
Ribeiro Myers saw former members of the Originals discussing the possibility of a reunion and reached out to encourage them. Ultimately, with the support of City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina, they decided to use Eastie Pride Day as a venue.
“East Boston is one of those communities that is really all about bringing people together, for any opportunity, for any reason,” Ribeiro Myers said.
The band was together from about 1968 – 1972, she said, performing in East Boston and around the city, at times backing some of the bigger acts of that era. One of the original members has since died, but the others will reunite on Saturday for their first public performance in almost four decades.
“It’s going to be really kind of a great sentimental, emotional thing for me, just to see these guys get on stage,” Ribeiro Myers said. “Their kids haven’t seen them perform; certainly their grandchildren haven’t seen them perform.”
With young musicians from ZUMIX also taking the stage on Saturday, Ribeiro Myers said the event would be an opportunity for residents to “see the evolution of music in East Boston, and I just think that’s fantastic.”
Eastie Pride Day will also include performances by DJ Vinny Schettino, Sabrina Ryan, the Beverly Richards Dance Academy, the Eleanor Rubino Academy of Performing Arts, the Rachel Ferrante School of Performing Arts, and a martial arts demonstration by students from Tokyo Joe’s Studio of Self-Defense.
The annual event at Piers Park was founded by LaMattina in 1989, while he worked in the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services as a liaison to East Boston and the North End.
Ribeiro Myers said that back then, LaMattina and others “saw the need to hold an annual community event that would really show the best of what East Boston has to offer.” Since the late 1980s, the day has grown and thrived, attracting more than 2,500 people last year.
Eastie Pride Day will take place at Piers Park this Saturday, Aug. 20, from 3 – 8 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Eastie Pride Day Committee, City Councilor Salvatore Lamattina, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, State Represenative Carlo Basile, State Senator Anthony Petruccelli, the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, and the East Boston Foundation.
Email Jeremy C. Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Courtesy the Eastie Pride Day Committee)