Don’t miss this joyful video that Pat Oleszko (CRF 2011, DG 2019) has made to document the celebration last September of the 25th anniversary of Civitella. Highlights include The Great Cake Race, the Dancing Candles and, of course, “Pat in the Hat.”

Pat is a performance artist and was the visionary of the gala 25th weekend. She “dressed” the castle, made festive hats and attire, and orchestrated the weekend. After watching, read on for Pat’s comments on the experience…

Q: Pat, tell us a little bit about the preparations that went into making this weekend happen. 

A: “My, yes… the preparations were sprawling, intense, and relentlessly expansive, but endlessly rewarding. First, I was tasked with designing a project for Civitella that they couldn’t refuse—so I could return to that fecund ground and build upon an idea spawned from my initial residency. To decorate the castle with unique banners strung from every window was the start. Getting them there from my studio in New York, along with the dancing candle costumes, required much Hope and muscles and worry. Upon arrival, the Spectacle started burgeoning gleefully out of bounds. Synergy reigned. No creative request denied, ideas from all corners proffered and were incorporated into the Grand Plan. Elementary school children created instruments for the Shake, Rattle and Roll Band. High school students were engaged in making not one but three giant birthday cake props. The local classic car club participated. A medieval games group volunteered to lead the kids in contests. I created dozens of unique hats from wondrous Carnival papers picked up in Brazil for Civitellians, children, and friends. The wildly enthusiastic local marching band was engaged, as was the porchetta wagon, the charming beer and ice cream vehicles, and of course, the d.j.”

Q: Looking back, what would you change, if anything? Would you do it all over again?

A: “The town coming to the castle for the parade, the cake race, the dancing candles, the kids exuberant large and small, the competitions, the mighty conflagration, dancing under the stars… It could not have been better. I only wish we could do it all over again.”

Q: What are you up to now, professionally? 

A: “Especially now, hunkered down in a world drastically changing, I wonder, ‘was that really a dream?’ Nonetheless, I continue to work and conjure, hoping for the best and the return of this “Fool” to needle and flourish.”