Viva la Panza - An 80-Year Tradition for the Italian American Professional and Businessmen's Club

Oct 16, 2018 151

Viva la Panza, “hooray for the stomach” or “joy to the belly” according to an article published March 29, 1943 in the Akron Beacon Journal, described the event as a tradition to eat until your knife and fork scream for help! Started a few years earlier before the outbreak of WWII by local Italian immigrants, now U.S. citizens, to provide political influence and assist new immigrants upon arrival to the States, Viva has now grown to an annual event raising nearly $100,000 each year for scholarships and charitable contributions.

Names such as Joe Lucchesi, Tom LaRose, Ernie Teodosio, Sam Comerato, Leo Santillo, Tony, Fred and Joe Sica, Nick Cardarelli, “Whiskey” Dick (Liborio) Percoco, and Joe Gareri all were instrumental for setting the stage for an event that would exceed their wildest dreams. 

Percoco, a man of substance himself, started the tradition of awarding a trophy to the member with the biggest belly. In the early days, men would drop their drawers for the measuring ceremony and, according to Bob Bruno in the November 1, 1998 Beacon, you could say their choice of underwear was quite peculiar.

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SOURCE: https://www.lagazzettaitaliana.com

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