ALBANY: Festival shows off Capital District diversity

Nezaj was nominated to be Miss Italy by the American Italian Heritage Association, which qualified her for Miss Festival of Nations. Dressed in a homemade costume on Oct. 17, she was surrounded by members of her Italian family. Nezaj's grandmother, Tina Micchina, came to the United States in 1953 from Sicily and her mother, Marcella Michel, went to college for three years in Rome, Italy and is fluent in Italian. Nezaj has spent 15 summers in Italy and is nearly fluent in the language.

Trisha Costanzo, 17, from Perth was named Miss Lithuania. She has been participating in Lithuanian dancing as part of any organization called the Junior Knights of Lithuania.

I like staying close to my culture because it is a part of me. It's who I am, she said. She has been involved with the Festival of Nations for nearly 15 years and it is her second time being Miss Lithuania.

"The Festival of Nations is important to celebrate because it shows people different cultures and how important it is to accept different cultures," she said.

After 22 years of chairing the festival, Ajmera's goal is to get the children involved and show how well different cultures can work together.

"We help children coming up in this world every year," he said. "It is pretty good that we can work in harmony whatever our political differences. We don't always agree, but once the decision is made we support it."

The Festival of Nations will take place at the Empire State Plaza in Albany from noon to 5 p.m.on Sunday, Oct. 28.""

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