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Running Of The Saints In Jessup Celebrates Cherished Tradition Of St. Ubaldo

BY JEFF HORVATH, STAFF WRITERMay 26, 2019

JESSUP — With statues of their respective saints perched high above their shoulders, a mass of bodies clad in the family colors of saints Ubaldo, Anthony and George swept down Church Street in waves of yellow, blue and black Saturday amid thunderous applause from those lining the sidewalks.

The raucous scene of La Festa dei Ceri played out as it has for decades in Jessup. And, just as they do every year, out-of-towners with roots in the small Midvalley community returned to enjoy the cherished tradition of St. Ubaldo Day with those who call the borough home.

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Among them was Amanda Pisarski, a Jessup native who’s lived most of her life in Orange County, California. Pisarski returned from the West Coast to don the distinctive blue and red of the family of St. George.

“Our cultural upbringing and our understanding of our place in the world is very much defined by our heritage,” Pisarski said before the running of the saints began. “Coming here and learning about my family and my ancestors really gives context to, one, understanding why people in my family behave a certain way, but also it’s a sense of pride, a sense of ... I belong somewhere.”

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About a block away at Powell and Ward streets, where the procession began about 5:30 p.m., Ted and Ann Peters waited for the teams to take off. Ted Peters, who now lives in Throop, grew up on Ward Street. His grandfather immigrated to the United States from Gubbio, Italy, where La Festa dei Ceri originated and the only other city in the world to celebrate it.

“When those people came here, they brought the tradition over,” said Peters, whose family has long associated with St. Anthony. “I’m very proud of my grandfather and what they did. ... It’s amazing that it’s still going on.”

Even those who moved to Jessup later in life, like Harriet Aniska, said they feel a special kinship with the St. Ubaldo Day tradition. Aniska and her granddaughter, Elizabeth Aniska, watched the St. Ubaldo team warm up from the front lawn of her Mary Jo Drive home.

“I think it’s just filled with memories of people that did race and passed and people hoping to carry on the tradition in the future,” Harriet Aniska said of the festivities. “I think this will live on way past my lifetime.”

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Aniska waited to watch her boyfriend, Josh Roberts, run for the family of St. Ubaldo. She had some advice for Roberts before the race started.

“Don’t drop the saint and don’t get hurt,” she said.

The festivities continue today with the Ceri Piccoli, a children’s race, which will launch from Powell Avenue about 12:15 p.m.

St. Ubaldo Day Running of the Saints

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