Ocean Township:By the end of Friday night the Italian American Association of Ocean Township had enjoyed 75,000 visitors at the. Michael Cernigliaro Fairgrounds at Palaia Park. For the IAATO members volunteers working the festival at booths of food, games and enjoying great company, the annual event had been a big success. Friday evening alone had drawn 45,000.
The daily 50-50's were doing very well. Those funds and the overall would make possible scholarships to Ocean school kids, with a new county-school based scholarship to recognize the support realized from neighboring towns. Scout troops in town will receive awards and other service groups as well.
Michael Cernigliaro, now passed, was one of the founders of the Italian American Association of Ocean Township, serving as president from 1976 to 1980. He got the event off the ground at the request of the town in 1976 for the Centennial. He went on to become treasurer for another 20 years, and was a permanent fixture each year at the Association's Italian American Festival, where he served as Festival Chairman its first year through 2000. His contributions led to being Man of the Decade in 1986, as well as being on the Board of Governors at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, among his many other roles in the communities.
Saturday was a rainy day for the festival but Sunday made a weather come-back to raise the total week guests to near 100,000 as final figures were being counted.
TV's Channel 12 had been on the scene on Friday to catch the glow of the affair. It was all "Magnifico" an IAATO volunteer was heard to say. Magnifico indeed, says WOTS.