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June 19, 2014

St. Mary’s 30th annual street dance, festival takes place Saturday

NEW ALBANY — At the end of the 2012-13 school year, St. Mary’s Catholic Academy in New Albany was closed by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The move was met with much resistance and finger-pointing. It was a dark day in the school and church’s history.

While parishioners of St. Mary’s Catholic Church are still sad their school closed, they have moved on and are determined to make new memories, and attract new members.

“Things happened that led up to the school closing,” said parishioner Kris Jakoby. “Our parish is in a new and exciting chapter of the church’s history.”

One tradition at the church has not skipped a beat in the last 30 years.

St. Mary’s 30th annual street dance and festival will be held Saturday, June 21, on the church grounds, at the corner of Eighth and Spring streets, New Albany. Festivities begin with the family festival from 1 to 6 p.m. which will include kids games, inflatables, raffles and battle of the bands. From 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., the street dance will take center stage for those 21 and older featuring two bands, The Juice Box Heroes and Nervous Energy, along with a casino, bingo and beer garden.

Cover charge for the street dance is $10. Music will be played continuously for six hours.

There will also be chicken and dumplings served all day along with deli style food

“The festival has grown and evolved over the years. It’s like a homecoming,” said festival Chairwoman Tonya Boley. “It’s a great time to meet friends and have a good time. We are having a party and we want to show everybody who we are.”

And Boley and others said who they are is an active parish that is still doing good things for the community. All proceeds from the festival go to the different ministries at the church.

There was a risk the festival would not continue following the school’s closing. However, despite a little rain and on the heels of the school closing, the festival was held last year to continue the tradition.  

“It was a blow to everyone, closing the school,” she said. “But we have to stay together. This is one of the oldest festivals around and people look forward to it.”

Jakoby gave Boley and others credit for keeping the festival alive last year.

“I think if it had skipped last year it would have been huge,” Jakoby said. “I think we will have a big crowd this year. We have stayed positive. It’s still a strong event.”

David Hock was on the first festival committee 30 years ago, and said the goal then was to save the school. While things have changed in three decades, he said he has been impressed by the people of St. Mary’s determination to move forward.

“At this point, there is like a new life for the parish,” Hock said. “The will to save the school was there but the archdiocese decided to close it. I don’t think the parish would have ever done that.

“But you can’t keep a good parish down. We got up and kept going. I think it should be an inspiration for other parishes who are going through this.”

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