More than 200 guests participated in fifth annual Heritage Dinner hosted by the Patrons of the Apalachicola Library (PALS) which benefitted the Margaret Keys Library.

Friday evening, Oct. 14 was a celebration of the contribution of Italian immigrants to Apalachicola.

The PALS worked together with other county residents and descendants of early Apalachicola settlers to decorate the Coombs Armory, prepare authentic Italian fare and present a program of entertainment that echoed the Italian theme.

The room was bedecked with flowers, Italian flags and photos of Apalachicola’s Italian founders with tables dedicated to families like the Sangarees, Buzzetts, Lirchidellas, DeCosmos, and Zingarellis. There was much discussion of family portraits, many obtained from the collection of the Florida Department of State.

Jan DeCosmo was the keynote speaker for the evening sharing her research on Italian settlers in the Southeast. Other speakers included retired Rear Admiral Mike Millikan, husband of Apalachicola native Elizabeth Zingarelli, who gave a humorous talk to warm up the crowd. Apalachicola architect Warren Emo addressed attendees on his design for the future Apalachicola Municipal Library which he described as a structural embodiment of the history of Apalachicola.

A high point of the evening’s entertainment was handsome crooner Tony Partington of Eastpoint. The classically trained musician performed love songs in both English and Italian including “Moon Over Naples” and “Tell Me That You Love Me Tonight.”

On the menu for this year’s Heritage Dinner was an opening course of antipasto with cheese, cold sausages, olives and fruit. The main course was baked ziti with meatballs and a choice of salads. A group of women collaborated to prepare the food. Despina George said she, Elizabeth Milliken, Delores Roux and Maryann Siprell prepared the meatballs and marinara and assembled the ziti. Other members of the community graciously baked the entrees and delivered them to the Armory so they could be served warm from the oven. After the main course there were more than a dozen cakes prepared from scratch by local bakers to satisfy the most discriminating sweet tooth. The meal was capped off with shots of limonicello.

City Librarian Caty Greene was pivotal in planning and executing the evening. She also spoke several times during the evening, acting as master of ceremonies.

Rumor has it that next year’s Heritage Dinner is already being planned with Irish immigrants as the theme.