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For some, festa is best-a

February 08, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Those who remember the pasta are eager to eat it.

Italian Festa, Antietam Exchange Club's long-running fundraiser, feeds hundreds of people each year.

Frit Hill, the chairman of the event, said the biggest wave of diners usually arrives between noon and 1 p.m., when families are getting out of church.

His assessment was correct Sunday, when the pasta party was back for the 36th time.

During the first hour, the line at South Hagerstown High School was backed up, with attendees waiting to get in the cafeteria.

Inside, busy volunteers were filling plates, serving drinks, clearing tables and gathering trash.

Louise Luther and David Russo watched over a table of homemade cupcakes, cakes and other sweets, going for $1 a portion.

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"That's our favorite job here," Luther said.

All of the money raised Sunday will go to Antietam Exchange Club's favorite causes.

Hill said the club gives money to the Parent-Child Center and holds an annual Christmas party for needy children.

The goal was to raise about $4,000 on Sunday.

Hill said the Italian Festa usually draws about 700 to 800 people for spaghetti, salad, bread and drinks.

The food got a good review from Anna Martin.

"This is some of the best spaghetti I've ever had," she said.

"And she's hard to please -- with spaghetti, let's put it that way," said her son, Dean Martin.

They were on their way out with a few take-home boxes, including a dinner for Dean Martin's brother, who couldn't attend.

Hill said the club also raises money through a golf tournament that honors Craig Wibberley, one of two Washington County sailors who died in the USS Cole bombing, and by selling coupon books.

"Everything is local," he said. "Everything stays here in Hagerstown."

The Italian Festa is such a tradition for some that they buy the same tickets from the same Exchange Club members each year.

Some, Hill said, also know not to show up until after 1 p.m., when the busiest period is over.

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