THE INAUGURAL PARADE GETS THINGS OFF TO A FLYING START
The first day, December 5th, turned out to be quite a busy one, with several stages which were marked by proceedings that were both symbolic and important. In the morning the different delegations had devoted themselves to setting up the various parts of the exhibition on the first floor of the Calabresi hotel, with the usual predictable hullabaloo.
Next came an official ceremony, planned for midday, the raising of the colours by a detachment of the Italian Navy under the orders of Captain Genaro Pappacena, commander of the harbour office of the Port of San Benedetto. The Italian, European, AEHT and Erasmus Programme flags were raised to the regulation whistle signals, as the School students looked on and as School Director Manuela Germani prepared to speak. She spoke briefly to express her pleasure at hosting Christmas in Europe and the delegations which had come from right across Europe. For his part Captain Genaro Pappacena declared that he was very pleased to contribute to this European gathering.
From 15.30 onwards the members of the delegations, in their national costumes, gathered in the exhibition area, because the official opening of the exhibition was planned for 16.00. The ceremony took place at the entrance to the exhibition with the traditional cutting of the ribbon by School Director Manuela Germani and AEHT President Ana Paula Pais; in the front row of the participants were Christiane Keller, founder of Christmas in Europe, as well as AEHT General Secretary Nadine Schintgen. Here again the short addresses from Manuela Germani and Ana Paula Pais placed this Christmas in Europe in context, and wished everyone a pleasant and profitable stay in San Benedetto del Tronto.
Then came the visit, and the comments of the invited guests in front of the exhibition stands, as well as the tasting of the different specialities from near and far as they passed along. As night fell it was time for the parade. The procession was preceded by the ‘bandiera’ or flag with the city’s colours, by the AEHT flag, the flag of Italy and the European flag, then by the local Massignano brass band which provided spirited marching music con brio for this joyful procession of the delegations through the town as far as the church of San Benedetto Martyr, in the beautiful setting of the old town. As they passed by, the onlookers often seemed incredulous at the sight of these young people who had come from elsewhere!
The choice of the parade’s destination was no accident because the nearby Church of San Benedetto Martyr provided the setting for a Christmas concert which we can only describe as exceptional. It was standing room only in the holy place, and the concert programme was really exceptional – it was presented by Francesco Tranquilli and produced by Silvia Ulpiani. Don Tommaso Capriotti, Rector of the parish, addressed a message of welcome to everyone, emphasising the importance of this European gathering in San Benedetto del Tronto.
As for the programme of music and poetry of the concert, it included instrumental works, choral works and readings that flowed well from one to the next. The four participating choirs singing together, as well as the strings of the Youth Orchestra, performed a superb finale familiar to all the participants, ‘Adeste fideles’, conducted by Silvia Ulpiani who was quite carried away. And of course the last word was from Don Tommaso Capriotti who wished everyone a Merry Christmas, before inviting the congregation to say a fervent Lord’s Prayer. What a day!