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The Boston Globe

Opinion

CARLO ROTELLA

Put down the phone; real life abounds

It took me a while to figure out what it was about my recent visit to St. Peter’s Fiesta in Gloucester that felt so satisfying. All the usual pleasures were on hand: the all-ages crowds; the timeless allure of the various rigged tests of skill and strength; the patter of the sun-browned, sleepy-alert carnies; the entertainers who sang joosta like Julius La Rosa or Connie Francis; the swooping passage high overhead against the darkening sky of riders on a giant aerial swing, putting up their arms all together as the machine banked for a suspended moment before swinging back the other way.

It was a street festival, a carnival, and a community ritual all at once — there were boat races and a greasy pole contest and the blessing of the fleet, too — and it offered joy and meaning to locals and visitors alike.

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