Cellini Lodge 2206 is a New Hyde Park based philanthropic organization whose roots run deep in preserving Italian culture and tradition. Every year, Cellini Lodge puts on a feast, celebrating what’s to love about being from lo stivale, ‘the boot’. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, this year’s celebration has been canceled. The five-day feast was originally set to take place Wednesday August 19, until Sunday August 23 at Michael J. Tully Park.
Anthony Calabro, president of Cellini Lodge 2206, said not having the event is unfortunate. “Not having the feast was very disappointing,” he said. “The members look forward to it. They love you know the comradery, they love being together,” he said. “Without the volunteers, we can’t have the feast. They make it happen and they do it for nothing. They love their heritage, their culture and the sense of community.”
Over the past five months, Cellini Lodge 2206 has had to cancel many, if not all of its events. “It’s disheartening because a lot of our members, especially our older members, they look forward to doing things with the lodge,” he said. “We run events at least once a month, if not, once every two months. Besides the feast, we run St. Joseph’s night, in March that had to be canceled. We were trying to do something for Father’s Day that had to get canceled. Christmas in July had to get canceled. ”
The feast draws approximately 13 thousand people every year. Mary Modica, first vice president and feast chairperson, said there are a variety of tents and entertaining options for the community to enjoy. “We do a zeppole tent, which is the most popular, we have a pasta tent, pastry, beer and wine. We also bring in some outside vendors who sell merchandise and also do sausage and peppers, gyros, pizza, ice cream, it’s phenomenal,” said Modica.
Modica said not having the feast is a huge loss, financially speaking. “Now we’re trying to do some fundraisers because we don’t have the money coming in from the feast and we need operating expenses,” she said. “We are putting together a cookbook. We are getting recipes from different members – recipes that are meaningful to them and that are original. It’ll have all types of food, any nationality, it could be entrée, dessert, whatever people want to submit.”
She said Cellini Lodge 2206 also gives back to the community in many ways. “We do a lot of charity work in the community and nationally,” Modica said. “We do scholarships, not only for our member’s children and the grandchildren of our members, but we also give scholarships to all the local high schools, for students who are studying the Italian language. This year, we gave out over 14,000 dollars in scholarships, which is a significant amount of money considering we haven’t been doing any fundraising recently. We also give to different charities. We’ve done Make-A-Wish, Ronald McDonald House, Marty Lyons Foundation, Joey’s Friends Too, and The Boy Scouts of New Hyde Park.”
Calabro said Cellini Lodge 2206 also reached out to the local community, during the height of the pandemic. “When the pandemic hit, we agreed to give lunch and dinner to four of the local hospitals, back in May,” he said. “It was LIJ, North Shore Hospital, St Francis and Winthrop. We gave two of them lunches and two of them dinners. They enjoyed it. We got beautiful letters from them, and we felt it was something to do at the time.”
Calabro wants to resume normal activities soon. “What I’m looking forward to and have to make sure is that when we start to come back together, first of all, make sure it’s safe for my members,” he said. “I cannot do anything unless I know it’s absolutely safe, especially when a lot of them are elderly.”
Modica has big plans for next year’s feast. “What I’m hoping to do is to bring in more vendors, change the entertainment so it brings in more of the younger [20’s and 30’s],” she said. “A lot of our members are on the senior side so we want to vary our membership.”
Cookbook price is $29.99. Cash/check only. (Made payable to Cellini Lodge 2206) Send all payments to 2208 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park, NY 11040. For more information, contact Alfonso Squillante at 516-226-0531 or email firstname.lastname@example.org