Neighbors concerned about popularity of Memphis Italian Festival

(WMC-TV) – The Italian Festival is in full swing and the streets surrounding the event are packed with vehicles.

There are so many cars that neighbors are concerned about safety.

It's said to be "a little taste of Italy right here in Memphis", but some festival neighbors say they are not happy about the crowds in their front yards.

"When we moved in here seven years ago, my wife says it was the largest house warming party she's ever had," said Butch Armour, who lives in east Memphis.

But not all east Memphis residents have welcomed the Italian Festival that began more than 20 years ago.

"Parking is obviously an issue with all these cars around but I guess you just learn to maneuver around it," said Jacon Drzycimiski, who attended the festival.

Parking is the biggest complaint by neighbors but festival goers say a new shuttle service has eliminated some of the congestion.

"So what they do is park on the streets and there's a shuttle bus down the street at the Hilton," said Alexis Lange.

Event chairman Bobby Gardino said once families attend the outdoor concerts, play some bocce, and sample a few Italian cuisines, the parking hassles are easy to forget.

"We've got arts and crafts vendors, games for the kids, we've got something for everybody," said Gardino.

After the festival, organizers said hundreds of volunteers canvas the community making sure all the trash is cleaned up and no footprints of the festival are left behind.

Gardino said, in general, the community has been content with the crowds that come to the three day festival and they expect another successful year.

"We understand that it may be an inconvenience for them but they're very supportive and we feel like it's good for our community and our neighborhood," said Gardino.

The Memphis Italian Festival runs through Saturday evening at Marquette Park. The new shuttle service is free.

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