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News | Wednesday, 30 December 2009

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Maltese ‘Palio’ project wins EU golden star award

A few days before Christmas, the Hamrun Local Council became the first Maltese local council to win the coveted Golden Star Award of the EU programme Citizens for Europe.
Its project, “From Carpineto Romano to Hamrun – One Europe”, was acclaimed as the best from Malta and the best along with those of three countries of the European Union.
The citation remarked that, “The activities organised during this town twinning meeting provided an opportunity to demonstrate how common historical heritage and cultural roots can forge a strong feeling of common identity.”
The project presented by the Hamrun Local Council consisted of a twinning agreement with Carpineto Romano and the staging in Hamrun of the annual festival held in Carpineto Romano, known as Palio della Carriera.
This festival includes a parade of personages with costumes of the epoch, flag throwing displays, folklore music, evening folklore banquets in clubs, and horse-races. This last event is made up of a competition between the seven Rione, or clubs, who each support a horse. On the day of the races, the horse rider of each club has to run his horse and pick up a hanging ring with a short lance. The club whose horse-rider gathers the most rings and in the shortest time wins the event. After the horse-races, all the participants gather for what is known as Cena del Cardinale(banquet of the Cardinal) which brings the Palio della Carriera to a close.
The idea of bringing over to Malta a contingent of 150 personnel, with all equipment, and staging this event in the town of Hamrun was thought up by Omar Bugeja, Marija Borg Mifsud, Joe C. Cordina and Rene Monsigneur, all from Hamrun, because of the contacts they had with Carpineto Romanao.
They formed plans and then suggested the project to the Hamrun Local Council. The Mayor Vincent Bonello and all the Council Members agreed with the idea and decided to apply with the EU for the funding of the project.
The application for such a project also insists in first forming a twinning agreement between the towns concerned. When contacted, the Comune of Carpineto Romano agreed to sign a twinning agreement. Hamrun Mayor Mr. Vincent Bonello, and Councillors Christian Sammut, Cedric Valletta, Mario Caruana and Jonathan Abela, Judith Bugeja and Arthur Ellul and the four who had originated the idea, and the Secretary of the Council Philip Massa, went to Carpineto Romano for the official signing. The Hamrun Local Council then formally applied for the project with the EU.
It was with great satisfaction for all, that the Hamrun Local Council received the news that the application had been accepted by the EU. An Ad hoc committee was immediately formed between members of the Council and the group who had originated the idea, with Omar Bugeja as general coordinator. Relative contacts were made, plans were drawn up for a whole week of activities, and arrangements were prepared to cater for the stay of the 150 visitors from Carpineto Romano in Malta.
The festival took place between the 4 and 12 May 2009. Hamrun’s main street, St Joseph High Road was decorated for the occasion. Every evening the150 strong Italian contingent made up of drummers, trumpeters, flag throwers and folklore musicians all dressed in the costume of the epoch took part in activities in connections with the Hamrun clubs.
The programme also included shows at the Little Sisters of the Poor, Fra Diegu home and at St Vincent de Paule. In the morning the Italians gave shows at Valletta, Mdina and also in Gozo. Meanwhile Mayor Emilio Cacciotti, President of the Municipality, Pietro Santucci, Deputy Mayor Matteo Battisti and other Representatives of the Municipality of Carpineto Romano had meetings with the Mayor and Council Members of the Hamrun Local Council. A plaque was unveiled at the offices of the Hamrun Local Council and a tree was planted by both Mayors at St. Paul’s Square Hamrun, to commemorate the occasion and celebrate Europa Day.
The Italian contingent also met the Italian Ambassador to Malta, H.E. Paolo Andrea Trabalza.
The highlight of the programme was reached on the evening of 9 May when the main street of Hamrun was strewn with little pieces of rubber and turned into a racecourse for the actual horse-racing. The programme started with a parade of the whole Italian contingent together with the Maltese group of In Guardia, the Hamrun Scouts Band and the Police cavalry, through principal streets, ending at St Joseph High Road, where shows were given by the Italian flag throwers and the Maltese In Guardia. Then came the spectacle of the horse-racing.
After the horse-racing, festivities continued well into the night with the participation of the Hamrun Bands of St Joseph, St Gaetan and the Immaculate Conception. Shops remained open and bars and clubs put up stands on the pavement. Attendance was massive and the festival was a great success.
And now just a few weeks ago the Hamrun Local Council received the good news that this project has been chosen for the EU Golden Star Award. The Hamrun Mayor Mr Vincent Bonello was invited to lead a delegation to Brussels to be accorded the Award, at a special ceremony held on 16th December 2009. It was a moment of pride and emotion for all those involved, when Hamrun Mayor Vincent Bonello was presented with the Golden Star trophy. On stage were also new Carpineto Romano Mayor Quirino Briganti and coordinator Omar Bugeja.
The occasion was further enhanced when all the members of the Hamrun delegation made up of Councillors Christian Sammut, Carmen Borg, Cedric Valletta, Mario Caruana, and project originators Maria Borg Mifsud, Joe C. Cordina and Rene Monsigneur, as well as a Representative of the Municipality of Carpineto Romano Matteo Battisti and Hamrun Council Secretary Philip Massa were called on stage to share the occasion and the emotion as well as for a family picture. It was also a fitting finale to a great achievement which, from a dream became a reality.
The other three countries which were given this award were the Municipality of Monza, Italy, the local government of Gyomaendrod, Hungaryn and the Municipality of Rijeka, Croatia.
Four organisations – “INSIEME societa cooperative sociale”, “European Blind Union”, “Forum Voix Etouffees” and “Initiativgruppe Geschlossener Jugendwerkhof Torgau e.V.” – were also presented with the Golden Star Award for their projects.


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