PHOTOS: Maria “the Ice Cream Girl” hosts fundraiser to benefit Italy in Bensonhurst

Bensonhurst partied for a cause on Tuesday, September 20 as Maria “the Ice Cream Girl” Campanella hosted a block party-esque fundraiser at Avenue U and West 10th Street for the victims of last month’s 6.2 magnitude earthquake in central Italy.

An $8 donation got event-goers a special Italian flag necklace as well as a ticket to try some of the authentic Italian food on hand, donated by Queen Ann Ravioli & Macaroni.

“As the event went on, it just kept getting more perfect and more perfect,” said Campanella, who, alongside residents and distinguished guests like Father Arthur Minichello of Saint Simon & Jude Parish, stood inside a chalk-drawn boot, made to represent the country of Italy. “We all stood in the boot holding hands and saying prayers. It was so beautiful.”

In addition, L&B Spumoni Gardens donated six and a half gallons of spumoni ice cream for Campanella’s Spumoni Ice Cream Eating Contest, in which adults over 21 were encouraged to step up and beat “the Champ Ron Ron Rondon and Super Ice Cream Eater MikeyAce.” However, according to Campanella, MikeyAce prevailed.

Among the music and entertainment at the event — appropriately dubbed “We Love Italy” and held outside of Scott Scolkin Chiropracter — were rows of classic cars and motorcycles, as well as meet-and-greets and autograph signings with local celebrities like William DeMeo (star of such films as “Back in the Day” and the to-be-released “The Life and Death of John Gotti”), Christian DeMeo, Chris Victor, Dominick Mancino, Tommie Ramola and Sal the Voice from “America’s Got Talent.”

Campanella credited much of the event’s heart to the support of DeMeo, a local celebrity she says truly belongs to Bensonhurst.

“Willie is such a big inspiration to the neighborhood,” she said. “We watched him as a young kid and we followed him, and the love he has for his hometown and the people in it is just indescribable. His heart inspires others. He is ours.”

That appreciation flowed both ways.

“It’s a really important cause that I’m so happy to support,” DeMeo told this paper.

All in all, the event turned out over 150 people and nearly $800, all of which will go to the Red Cross.

The event was capped off with the cutting of an authentic Italian cake from Rimini Bakery, which Campanella picked up for the event.

“We said, ‘[the people of Italy] might not see us, or know who we are or that we gave them this money, but they don’t need to,” Campanella said. “We just need to know in our hearts what we’re doing for them.

“Everybody came together and that was so awesome to see,” she said.


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