Friday, March 29, 2013

Thousands line Little Italy streets for Good Friday procession

TORONTO - A ton of work goes into the Church of St. Francis of Assisi’s popular Good Friday procession every year and Friday’s was no different.

Thousands lined the streets of Little Italy to watch parishioners garbed as Jesus, Roman soldiers and disciples with banners tell the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and the events leading up to it.

Joe Maneli, the procession’s director the past 27 years, said the procession “is really a re-enactment of the passion of Christ.

“We usually have about 2,000 participants within the procession and we’ve hit crowds of about 200,000 people back in years with great weather,” said Maneli. “It’s a huge challenge. It requires a team of people start in January to organize this thing.

“And it gets done. We’re not perfect, but, we try to make it better each and every year,” he added.

Maneli said there were 10 floats with a total of about 105 characters portraying people of the time, including five portraying Jesus in different chapters. Maneli’s father introduced characters to the procession in 1977, and Joe Maneli was one of them, before taking over as director in 1985.

Unlike Maneli, Chiara Pereira was helping to organize the parade for the first time.

Why did she get involved?

“I just wanted to be part of something amazing. I’m a part of the church and I’ve never been a part of this and I wanted to be a part of this,” she said, motioning to the unfolding spectacle.

While the procession was started by two Italian men more than half a century ago, Maneli said “it’s open to everyone. It’s an everybody event, because it’s about togetherness.”

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