Celebrating MLK Day

Published on: January 19, 2017

Gaetano Cannata and Ortygia Restaurant feed community in celebration of Dr. King’s birthday


Violinist Undine Shorey played beautiful melodies for the crowd as the day wound down.

Chef Gaetano Cannata, owner of Ortygia Restaurant in Bradenton’s Village of the Arts, held the city’s fourth annual local community feeding in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on Jan. 16.

The event was promoted in the Jan. 5 issue of The Observer News, and also by word-of-mouth and signs around the neighborhood. Friends and neighbors began arriving early inquiring about the food and clothing.

As volunteers unpacked and set up clothing donations, families browsed through the selections while waiting for the food to be served.

Around midday, servers staffed a buffet line for guests and served pasta, meatballs, salad, bread and dessert. There was live music, massage and makeup demonstrations. Although most of the crowd arrived as the gates opened, neighbors from the area dropped in throughout the afternoon. Many who arrived early stayed for the music once they’d eaten, and Chef Gaetano even got up on stage several times to join the band playing his blues harp.

Performers included violinist Undine Shorey, vocalist and keyboardist Jerry Shell, along with others who sang and played throughout the afternoon. Even a number of kids got up on stage with the musicians to join in because of the event’s festive atmosphere.

The event was a success for the neighborhood and organizers. According to Cannata and his assistant, April Childers, the restaurant served approximately 580 meals, and gave away over 20 boxes of clothing. Staffers and event planners hope to hold events similar to this in the future.

Musicians and organizers jam on stage together.

Servers worked together to ensure that everyone was fed appropriately.