You couldn't help but feel at least a little bit Italian, even if there's none in your bloodline.
The American Italian Heritage Society wrapped up La Festa Italiana on Sunday. The three-day annual celebration, which started Friday, drew about 1,500 people to the National Guard Readiness Center, 116th Street and Rainwood Road.
Most were Italian-Americans. But not Earl Wilke.
"I'm German," he said. "But we come every year. We have a lot of friends and family who are Italian."
Wilke's grandson Nicholas played a mean game of bocce ball, a sport popular in Italy.
"I did OK, I think," Nicholas said.
La Festa Italiana organizers hold the festival over Labor Day weekend. It has been at various spots around Omaha, including the Civic Auditorium years ago.
Group members hope that money raised from this year's event will help them build a home base where they can hold the festival and other events whenever they want. About 600 families belong to the American Italian Heritage Society.
"We've been a part of this from the very first one," said Gina Ripa of Omaha.
Much of the festival is centered on food — no surprise there.
But the variety of food was surprising. You could choose from pizza, mostaccioli with meatballs, sausage-and-pepper sandwiches, seafood and pastries such as cannoli, biscotti and pizzelle. Italian ice cream and Italian ice — sorbetto and gelato — were also served.
All of the food was made by members of the American Italian Heritage Society.
One of those members, Kathi Gaeta Benson, talked about her Italian roots as she looked at photographs of her older brother, Bob Gaeta, and father, Al Gaeta. The family and dozens of other Italian-American families from Omaha were featured in a historical display. Benson said her father and brother are the only father-son inductees in the Creighton Prep Hall of Fame.
"I'm proud," she said. "This is a part of us as Italians. This is what keeps us alive."
Benson's husband, Stuart Benson, had a good time of his own. He enjoyed a pizza, but acknowledged:
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