WEST PITTSTON — Cousins Gianna Jadus and Isabel Middleton are both baseball fans. And on May 1, they hoped their strings of tickets held winning numbers for ducats to a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders game.
Their grandfather, Mike Capizzi, of West Pittston, said he was already a winner, getting to take his two beautiful pre-teen granddaughters to breakfast.
The bottom line, though, for the three at a table in the church hall at Corpus Christi Parish was the fun they were having together.
They were part of a crowd of more than 50 who enjoyed the 31st annual Holy Name Society breakfast at the West Pittston church. And they very much enjoyed the fact that, this year, the girls actually could attend.
“Years ago, the tradition was only for fathers and sons – and grandfathers,” said Holy Name president Jerry Yakobitis. “We were pretty tough with the policy. After all, the Altar and Rosary Society had a mother-daughter thing at that time.”
But a few years back, the Altar and Rosary Society disbanded in the church.
“We decided to bring in all the kids,” Yakobitis said. “We’re welcoming a new tradition.”
That fits in with the Holy Name Society’s work to support the children of the parish. All of the children.
The breakfast is only one of the fundraisers that go on throughout the year and all money raised goes into the parish fund that supports the youngsters.
“We get the sashes the kids wear at Confirmation, we do things for First Holy Communion, and then there are get-togethers at Halloween and other holidays for the kids,” Yakobitis said.
The breakfast fit in perfectly with the “kid” theme. Guest speaker for the day was Chad Spencer, who referred to himself as the “manager” for Tux, the giant penguin who works as mascot and crowd-pleaser for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
“I always loved to entertain kids,” Spencer said. “Even when I was a kid myself.”
That didn’t keep him from being nervous at first behind the microphone, but Spencer, who offered to “speak from the heart,” began by offering his own story about following his dream to entertain people. The idea of working in costume sunk in when, as a 13-year-old, he helped his mother, a singer.
“She was doing some kind of fund-raiser, and she needed somebody to put on the Darth Vader costume,” he said. “So I did it. And I loved the idea of being in costume and entertaining.”
Spencer also spent time learning to do magic – especially on long trips between his dad’s home in California and his mother’s residence in Canada – and he entertained the kids of all ages at the breakfast with some of his illusions.
He pulled kids from their spots at the breakfast tables to be his lovely and talented assistants.
“That was pretty fun,” said Owen Jumper, 11, from West Pittston, who got his first gig in show business helping Spencer with one of the best card tricks known to man. “And he’s good at this.”
Spencer disappeared after his speech, but during the drawings for those door prizes and raffled items, including the coveted baseball tickets, his alter-ego, Tux, dropped in. Since it’s hard to ignore a rather portly seven-foot penguin in the room, Tux took over and had a bit of fun with the breakfast crowd.
The best part of the day, outside of Spencer’s magic spells and the later visit from Tux himself, was the chance to spend time with family, said 14-year-old Mollee Feeney, at a table with about 15 assorted members of the Williams family. Feeney sat with half a dozen of her female cousins.
“This is a small gathering,” said Allie Malacari, who at the age of 21 spent plenty of holiday gatherings with the clan that tops 27 cousins. “We love getting together, especially when the food is good like it was today.”
As for Capizzi, he’s looking forward to adding to his breakfast club. There’s a 5-year-old granddaughter who couldn’t quite get out of bed early enough for the 7:30 Mass that preceded the breakfast. And there’s a grandson who lives in the Pottstown area and didn’t make the trip Sunday for the meal.
“But, in other years, I’m going to try to get them all here,” he said. “It’s just a great fun thing to be together.”
Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at [email protected]