Maria Greco reacts to winning a match against Joe Spagnuolo during a Scopa tournament during the St. Angela Merici 32nd annual festival on Erie St. on Saturday August 10, 2019.
Dan Janisse / Windsor Star
At the St. Angela Merici hall on Erie St., Joe Sbagnuolo sat across from Maria Greco with his game face on. They were about to play the game-winning match of Italian card game “Scopa.”“This is a tradition for us,” Sbagnuolo, 74, said. “Even my grandkids know how to play Scopa.”A tournament of the popular Italian card game was one of three new additions to this year’s 32nd annual St. Angela Merici Festival on Erie St., along with a street soccer tournament and silent auction. The new events are ones that the festival’s committee members said they hope will revive local Italian culture and excite younger generations.“We’re trying to revitalize it by doing these events, and I think it’s a strong approach,” said Paul Spadafora, a committee member who organized the Scopa tournament.A letter written by Ronald Fabbro, the Diocese of London Bishop, in June notified church members that St. Angela Merici church — which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year — ran a deficit of $131,000 in 2018. The letter continued to say that the parish owed over $1.34 million in debt for the hall.It’s nice to just bring the Italian community together on a tradition that the young generation and the older generation both took part in.Despite this, committee members at the festival said they are hopeful that the church and hall aren’t going anywhere.“The St. Angela church has been a pillar of the Italian community here on Erie Street,” said Joe Politi, a committee member. “It just needs that reinvigorating feeling from young crowds.”Finding unique ways to incorporate the younger generation was how Spadafora thought to introduce a Scopa tournament — a game that he recalled playing with his nonno (grandfather) and his dad when he was just eight years old.“It’s nice to just bring the Italian community together on a tradition that the young generation and the older generation both took part in,” said Spadafora, adding that the 28 Scopa competitors who arrived made the event a “tremendous success.”
Tony Di Paolo, left, and Dominic Politi are shown during a Scopa tournament at the St. Angela Merici 32nd annual festival on Erie St. on Saturday August 10, 2019.
Dan Janisse /
In Scopa, which means “broom,” players match the cards in their hand to those placed face-up on the table. Players gain points by having the most cards and retrieving certain ones, while also trying to make a “Scopa.” When players say “Scopa” it means they have cleared the board by matching a card in their hand to a card/s on the table.Other events at St. Angela’s Aug. 10 and 11 celebrations included food, face painting and live music.As for Sbagnuolo, who has attended the festival for a number of years, he said he continues to show his support for a community that reminded him of home when he immigrated to the area about 55 years ago.“This is like Italy, this is our roots,” Sbagnuolo said. “Whoever came from Italy, this is the place we stayed, this is the first place and we met other Italians.”email@example.com