More than a dozen members of the USAG Vicenza Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers and volunteers from Vicenza Military Community made the short trip down the road to support friends and neighbors at the annual end of year celebration at La Fraglia Aug. 1.
La Fraglia is an educational and rehabilitation center established in 1991 that provides a variety of support programs for children and adults with disabilities.
Planning for the annual event began in June and included a barbecue, recreational activities, a musical performance and the participation of more than 250 people.
"It was wonderful," said Chuck Walls, USAG Vicenza deputy garrison commander. "It has passed my expectations to see so many single Soldiers out there to support the La Fraglia event.
"Here at La Fraglia we have currently 50 members and 25 assistants," said Giovanni Rigno, the facility association's president. "We repeat this event every year at the end of our annual program. We are so happy to have our American friends, our neighbors here again and we are really thankful for their helpfulness and cooperation."
This year's celebration was the third time BOSS and community members participated.
"This year we prepared more than 450 pieces of meat including both hot dogs and hamburgers," said Staff Sgt. Anthony Williams, USAG-Vicenza BOSS president. But the barbecue was only one highlight of the evening.
Children and adults enjoyed the dunk tank which the Soldiers had brought to La Fraglia for the celebration.
Pfc. Bella Dick of the Vicenza Dental Clinic was first to wind up sitting in the dunk tank.
"I came here tonight to volunteer with BOSS. I wanted to give back to the community that I live in and get to know the locals," she said.
After members of the Caserma Ederle Fire Department had filled the tank, Dick was asked to check if the water was OK.
"I went up and they pushed me in and the kids got so happy I didn't want to get back out, so I stayed in. This is my first experience and I love the idea of getting together. I think it would be cool if we did it more often and the people here are very friendly," she said, drying off with a towel.
"This is the third year I am coming and every year the event is getting better and better," said longtime volunteer Davide Ghiotto. "There is music, good food, but especially a lot of fun and smiles and this is very important for La Fraglia members."
One source of the smiles and good vibes was an Italian band that performed several songs before introducing special guest Kevin Boucher, also known as "Elvis," who has come to be a repeat attraction at La Fraglia celebrations.
"A few years ago I was invited to come out here and do my Elvis Tribute for the fantastic folks at La Fraglia," said Boucher. "I can't believe they came and asked me again if I would do it this year and I couldn't say no. It is such a privilege to be able to come out here and do something for them. I hope they enjoyed it and I would love to come back out and do it for them again," he said as he posed for pictures with his fans.
"This year again we renew the friendship between members from the American and the Italian community," said La Fraglia educator Damiano Nonato. "More than 250 people gathered here to listen to some music, eat the tasteful specialties offered by BOSS and cooked on one of the hottest days of the summer, and to share and talk about our life experiences.
"For our members this event is a very important get-together. Our participants after the first moment of shyness look forward to becoming friends and like to show their friendship through their smile' and hugs.
"Sharing moments like this is important for all of us, families and volunteers, and we would like to continue to share them during other occasions throughout the year. Come and visit whenever you can, we will always be happy to see you and we will communicate our thankfulness, forever," he said.
"Definitely, we look forward to continuing this strong relationship with La Fraglia members and their families," said Walls.

Page last updated Mon August 12th, 2013 at 00:00