A large crowd including Governor Larry Hogan turned out for the annual St. Leo's Ravioli & Spaghetti Dinner in Little Italy.
Donald Castronova stood up from a plate of ravioli and meatballs Sunday to cheer as Gov. Larry Hogan walked into the old school hall at St. Leo the Great Roman Catholic Church.
Hogan made his way to a table at the church's annual Ravioli & Spaghetti Dinner as a steady stream of well-wishers clamored to say hello amid warnings that sounded from the loudspeaker: "The governor's here to eat. Please let him do that," and, "This is St. Leo's: We're known for being polite."
Castronova, who abided by the warnings and gave Hogan his space, said he really likes the new governor. Hogan strikes him as just the sort of "average Joe" that he thinks will make the right choices for everyday Marylanders.
"I think he's serious about his campaign promises," said Castronova, of Jarrettsville. "He's saying what basically everyone in Maryland is saying.
"He's got more than our votes, he's got our prayers."
Hogan said he was eager to get back to Baltimore's Little Italy — where he spent time on the campaign trail — to tell the community he stands ready to help as he can.
"We're going to make sure the Italian community has a friend in the governor's mansion," Hogan said. "They're going to find a sympathetic ear, a seat at the table and an open door. We're going to fight every day on behalf of folks like the people in this room."
The Italian feast gave him an extra reason to visit.
"My mom and dad are Irish, but my taste buds and my stomach are Italian," Hogan said. "It was a terrific meal. I ate too much, though."
The annual dinner has been raising money for St. Leo's for more than 65 years, said Sue Corasaniti, the event coordinator and a longtime St. Leo's parishioner. Volunteers made 14,000 raviolis and 3,500 meatballs, and then served more than 2,000 meals to those who dined in the old school hall or took carry out, she said.
Corasaniti said the event, which also includes raffles and the sale of baked goods, is expected to raise $20,000. That money will be used to feed the homeless and help pay some of the church's bills, among other uses.
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