Race of the Saints has international floral flavor

464
Race of the Saints has international floral flavor

A volunteer makes a small bouquet of flowers on Friday at The Saint Ubaldo Society Cultural Center in Jessup, for the many runners participating in Saturday’s annual Race of the Saints. Butch Comegys / Staff Photographer Story by Frank Image Gallery for Race of the Saints has international floral flavor JESSUP — Donning blue “Viva St. George” shirts with red scarves, Gubbio natives Martina Menichetti and her mom, Delia Pifarotti, delicately wove small bouquets of red, white, purple and yellow flowers in preparation for today’s La Corsa dei Ceri. “We’re putting all our love and good luck in these flowers so that … they will have a good race, and not get hurt, and have lots of fun,” Menichetti said. Menichetti and Pifarotti joined a handful of volunteers as they plucked away at stacks of flowers — known as the making of the mazzoline di fiori — choosing one of each for the bouquets that the runners, or ceraioli, will wear during today’s festival. Together, about nine people assembled 400 bouquets in three hours Friday afternoon at the St. Ubaldo Cultural Center in Jessup. Menichetti, 28, was born in Gubbio, Italy, but lives in Luxembourg. Although she has visited family in Jessup in the past, this will be her first St. Ubaldo Day in Jessup. Joined by her mother, her brother, Kiko Menichetti, 25, and her brother’s friend, Ben Hoscheit, 26, of Luxembourg, Martina Menichetti felt honored to help make the bouquets. “When you wear it, it has so much more importance,” Menichetti said. “You think of all the people who have made it … your sister, your mom, maybe even your uncle — you carry their good luck with you all day.” Singing in both English and Italian while they worked, the group used the time to socialize and share stories as they created the bouquets. “It’s fun. It’s creative,” said Patricia Alunni of the Eynon section of Archbald as she swiftly put together the bouquets, securing the stems with green tape. “Each one is different, and on the day when they come to get their flowers, some like the bigger ones, some like the smaller ones, and it always seems to work out that everybody is happy with theirs.” The handmade bouquets are a longtime tradition in Gubbio but only recently took hold in Jessup. Previously, runners wore carnations colored to match their saint, but starting two years ago, a small group meets the day before the race to assemble the bouquets. Made up of solidago, statice and mini-carnations, the St. Ubaldo Society uses the same flowers as their counterparts 4,200-plus miles away, said society President Chris Nicastro. “This is what they do in Gubbio,” he said. “However you can get it closer to Gubbio … whatever little steps that you can take to do that, that’s what we would like to do.” The flowers grow in Gubbio and “represent the people that couldn’t be there anymore — the fallen father, the mother, whomever they were representing,” […]