OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The 98th annual Santa Lucia Festival returns to Omaha this week, as does a cherished staple: The Santa Lucia Band.
The band's origins date back more than a century, as other bands including the Peter Cosentino Band and Vincent Emmanual Band merged. Some members today are third-generation, including current conductor Mike DiGiacomo.
"So many people talk about the history of Little Italy. They talk about the history of the Santa Lucia Festival," said DiGiacomo. "The band is what creates those memories ... the music and the sounds that you hear during the festival."
His father, Don DiGiacomo, lead the Santa Lucia Band for 40 years. Vincent Emmanual was the conductor previously, holding the position for nearly 50 years.
His son, Vince Emmanual, reflected on his early years in the band.
"We had to have cops on their motorcycles and they'd be revving up their engines, 'Move out of the way! Move out of the way!' ... so the band can get through."
Band member and UNO student Hanna Ingraham recognized the cultural importance of the band and sought to preserve the music. Some songs only existed in handwritten form, brought to Omaha from Sicily.
See the results of Ingraham's final capstone project.
The Santa Lucia Band is increasingly more unique, DiGiacomo said.
"You know, community bands like this across the country are disappearing ... the Santa Lucia Band is thriving and alive and well."
The Santa Lucia Festival returns to Little Italy at 10th and William, July 21-24.
KMTV is proud to support the 2022 Santa Lucia Festival.