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Solvay: ITTONA convention brings hundreds into village

International' is not a word often associated with Solvay, but that changed last weekend when the village hosted the 2008 International Tyrolean Trentini Organization of North America (ITTONA) Convention.

The three-day event began Friday afternoon with a polenta fest, and kicked off Solvay's summer concert series later that evening with dancing under the stars to the tunes of Mario DeSantis Orchestra and fireworks display.

While hundreds filled the lawn of the gazebo on Milton Avenue, enjoying the music and perusing the craft show, many convention-goers remained at the Tyrol Club on Lamont Avenue, reminiscing.

There, surrounded by photographs of club members and the Trento landscape, Liliana Marinconz and Lillian Brosnan, both of New York City, could only compliment the Solvay club.

"The club is beautiful," said Brosnan. "It's a very nice place here."

Both women noticed the accent on community the convention offered this year, different, they said, from past gatherings.

"It's a completely different atmosphere," said Marinconz, who was born in Trento. She said she appreciated the closeness of the neighborhood.

That accent of Solvay was deliberate, said convention chair and Solvay club member Peter Albrigo. The 2008 convention was the first to be held outside a large city, and the Solvay club worked for two years to plan an event that would embrace the neighborhood.

Marinconz said in previous years, the event was held in a hotel, events and day trips were planned and there was little chance for all attendees to spend time together.

The weekend closed on Sunday with a breakfast at Woods Road Park, followed by mass at St. Cecilia's and a picnic lunch back at the park.

As clubs lined up in the park to parade down Woods Road toward the church, flags denoting each organization were hoisted, despite the rain.

As the crowd stuffed itself into the church, Angelo Boninsegna shuffled behind the crowd toward the church.

He was no stranger to Solvay - he lived here nearly 50 years ago, but followed the jobs to New England, he explained.

When asked how he thought the Solvay club had done the convention, Boninsegna spread his arms wide and smiled.

"Fantastic," he exclaimed.

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