Ottawa’s largest street party lived up to its name recently at the Finale of Ottawa’s Little Italy Festival. The Ottawa Festival is an opportunity to celebrate and laugh with the Italian-Canadian community. This years participants connected with their inner Italian, which started with fun and ended with food. The restaurants along the Preston Street opened their patios and moved into the street, creating a European village feel, right in the centre of the Nation’s Capital. People wandered, tasted, sipped, listened, watched and engaged as the street was engulfed with 125,000 people. It featured the Ottawa Ferrari Festival, the Italian Car Parade, the Preston Street Bike Race, Opera, flag throwers, Italian entertainers, roving characters, a midway and nightly fireworks.
2011 is the first year in some time where the street was not engulfed in construction. With all of the pieces in place and the new Preston Street showing it new blacktop and urban design, visitors were not disappointed. With all of the changes, Little Italy is now more exciting than ever, with great events, great restaurants and great atmosphere. Once again, the crowds loved the Kart Club and Atlantic F4 racecars. Ferraris were everywhere and available for viewing which culminated in a parade. Italian cars, motorcycles and scooters revved their engines and paraded their style in front thousands of appreciative on-lookers. The same people that brought Shakespeare to parks across Ottawa, The Company of Fools, supplied roving characters who added to the flavour of the street performers and buskers who entertained the crowds. Opera Lyra performed an impromptu selection right in the middle of the crowd, who were delighted and surprised to have seemingly anonymous people suddenly break into song around them.
The big top tent at the Adult High school Parking lot featured performances by Local Artists Blush Popshop All Stars, Alyssa Radulescu, Brio (Gruppo di ballo del Centro Giovanile Formativo Italocanadese), Marietta D'Alessio, Emidio D'Alessio, Corale Arcobaleno, Pierangela Pica, Marina Pilote-Flores and the Core Meo Youth Dance Group. Bike Race Ottawa brought us the Preston Street Criterium Bike Races that included children as young as five all the way up to adult bike racing. The action was fast and the crowd brought their cowbells in true cycling fashion.
It was a blast and we hope you were there. But if you missed, then don’t worry, there is always something happening in Little Italy Ottawa.