KULPMONT — The horns played as the drummers kept the beat. 

Fireworks exploded. 

The 2019 San Marziale Procession was about to set out from the front of Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church.

The Sunday afternoon procession, led by a police vehicle and fire truck, included the 30-piece Our Boys' Band, townspeople, some carrying the statue of the patron saint, and visitors from out of town. It headed out up Ninth Street into the Kulpmont neighborhoods above Chestnut, where residents watched from their porches or sidewalks or came out into the street as the procession halted to pin $1, $5, $10 and some $20 bills to the statue's garment.

The procession was held for decades in Kulpmont, beginning in the early 20th century, before it stopped in the 1970s.

"They brought it back in the '80s, then it was done for 12 years until we brought it back seven years ago," said one of the organizers, Tom Letcavage.

The procession is held in honor of the patron saint of Isca Sullo Ionio, a town in the province of Catanzaro in the Calabria region of Italy. A free Italian meal is held afterward and everyone is invited. Children also receive a free Italian ice the day of the procession.

"The majority of people from this town are actually from Isca," said another organizer, Chris Bressi. "Probably about 60 percent of the population actually came from this small little town of Isca."

Bressi said the event has grown in popularity.

"Last year we livestreamed," he said. "We had eight different countries looking at the event. We draw people from all over the country."

He said people were visiting from Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City.

The procession features the Our Boys' Band, which plays a variety of authentic Italian march music and some traditional patriotic American songs.

Kulpmont native Gloria Mirarchi Blusius said she watches the procession every year.

"My parents are from Isca Sullo Ionio," Blusius said.

Bernie Pupo, 74, who lives in Harrisburg, was born and raised in Kulpmont and returns for the annual procession. He said his uncle, Angelo D'Alexander, started the band.

Pupo said Isca Sullo Ionio was on a mountain, but after an earthquake in the early 20th century, the town extended down the mountain to flat ground close to the beach. The extended area is known as Isca Marina, Pupo said.

"Now Isca Sullo Ionio is starting to rebuild up on top," he said.

Rosalie Ziegler, of Kulpmont, said St. Mary's Church originally held the procession. Then the diocese merged St. Mary's and St. Casimir's  with Our Lady of Perpetual Help, of Marion Heights. The merged parish is Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church, which now sponsors the procession, Ziegler said as she stood in front of her home on Pine Street, waiting to pin a $10 bill on the statue when it got to her house.

"This is just awesome to see this every year," Ziegler said.

Joe Pitingolo, 63, a Kulpmont native now living in Emmaus, said as he walked in the procession that Sam Nicola revived the tradition and his children and grandchildren help sponsor it.

"My father was originally from here," Pitingolo said. "I come here annually (for the procession). I was born and raised in Kulpmont."

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