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West Side Hill's Italian Bash celebrates 15 years of food, fellowship

| Monday, July 21, 2014, 1:01 a.m.
Lori C. Padilla | For the Daily Courier
The West Side Hill Italian Festival always takes time to remember those residents of 'The Hill' who have passed away by releasing balloons. Danielle Martray (left) releases her balloon while Ava Marchewka, Sadie Guynn and Taylor Fisch watch their balloons take off into the air.
Lori C. Padilla | For the Daily Courier
The 15th annual West Side Hill Italian Festival has crowned new royalty. A prince and princess are now crowned with the king and queen of the festival. King Albert Fletcher(left back) crowned new prince, Austin Molinaro (left front) while newly crowned queen, Bunny Yekel (right back) crowned new princess, Ally Fletcher on Sunday, July 19, 2014, during the festivities.

Love and fellowship abounded at Connellsville's West Side Hill on Sunday. For the 15th year in a row, the neighborhood's Italian Bash attracted more than 150 people from near and far — an afternoon of food, fun and ethnic cuisine.

There was a huge assortment of Italian food, as well as plenty of other ethnic delicacies, including Slovak halupki, haluski and kielbasa. People lined up in droves to savor the tastes as well as the friendship that has been the event's trademark since it began.

“On behalf of the bash committee, we want to especially thank the Connellsville Sons of Italy for lending us the tables and chairs this year,” said Guy “Rick” Tressler, 92. Tressler and his wife, Rosie (Capo), and their family have provided space for the food for most of the bashes, providing the perfect backdrop for the many, many casseroles and desserts that neighbors bring — as well as the Italian music via CDs.

The bash is the brainchild of Francis Molinaro and his wife, Terrie, who wanted to carry on the tradition of “Little Italy.” Many West Side Hill families' ancestors came from Italy, mostly from the regions of Naples, Calabria, Avellino, Abruzzo, Basilicata and Sicily. Each third Sunday in July, tents and tables are set up in Francis' and Terrie's backyard, which is across the street from the Tresslers.

It truly is a family affair for the Tresslers and Molinaros as well as all families from West Side Hill.

A committee coordinates the annual event; planning goes on all year long. “We are a nonprofit group,” Rick said. “We try to raise enough money each year to cover expenses, which is about $500 a year.”

That amount of cash is worth the celebration. Just ask those neighbors and friends who've feasted on the bash's homecooked ethnic food and wine. They've lined up for 15 years and will likely continue to do so in the future.

Laura Szepesi is a contributing writer.

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