LIMA — An old Italian saying is: “Once you start something, always finish.”
This was on full display Sunday as CIAO hosted its 26th annual Italian Pasta Dinner at the Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center.
CIAO, or Charitable Italian American Organization, made sure there was enough of Italy’s finest foods for guests to eat, while also trying to find a way to finish it. Classic Italian dishes included pasta, meatballs, Italian sausage, garlic bread, salad and cannoli, which could be purchased at an additional cost.
Hosted annually on Palm Sunday, the day also served as the official Italian-American Day for the city of Lima. With more than 5,000 people expected to attend the event, the day serves as a reminder of how the community contributes to the better cause of Lima. Andy Maravola, CIAO’s chairman of the Scholarship Committee, explained how the proceeds from this event find a way to reach community needs.
“Every year after this event we figure out how much money we raised and how many scholarships we can afford,” Maravola said. “Not only that, but funding also goes toward Heartbeat of Lima and Family Promise, both great organizations in our city.”
An event like this doesn’t go unnoticed by the community, but also requires people willing to help make it run as smooth as possible. With more than 130 members, CIAO relied on a bulk of these members to volunteer their time and contribute to the busy day. Maravola said the Civic Center needs to be recognized for contributing to the event and allowing CIAO to have its annual dinner there for the past 26 years.
Along with CIAO volunteers, culinary students from Apollo Career Center took part in serving and helping with any task necessary. A different kind of student was also present at the festivities. Giulia Guida, a foreign exchange student from Alessandria, Italy, was also a volunteer. The 17-year-old is in Lima completing her senior year of school at Perry High School. Giulia said it was cool to see all the Italian culture here in Lima and enjoyed spending her time serving classic Italian food for the city she now calls home.
The Italian heritage CIAO boosts was being displayed throughout the day. A stage area was constructed to host a band and allow Italian-style dancing as entertainment for those who chose to eat inside the Civic Center. Many people who eat inside are influenced by the idea of being able to sit and speak with others in attendance. Donna Taviano, a lifelong resident of Lima, said she enjoys what the annual dinner brings to the area and it allows her to eat a good meal while having a good time.
“I think an event like this is great for the community and I have attended the dinner every year they’ve had it,” Taviano said. “I enjoy being able to see many people who I haven’t been with for a while and visit with all my Italian family.”
With another great turnout and all the annual dinner represents, CIAO will always have an event that brings great food, presence and more importantly great cause to the city. Maravola was more than humbled when talking about what the event and those who help volunteer each year.
“I want to thank all the people who attended and all our sponsors,” Maravola said. “It takes a lot to take care of the people in our community and this is one event that helps make it happen.”