Sharing good friends, good food, and good times are found in abundance at the Davedi Club, which this year is celebrating its 70th anniversary.
The North Bay Club was founded in 1952 by Italian immigrants.
On Saturday night, people from near and far gathered at the popular city landmark to celebrate this latest milestone with a dinner and dance.
“A group of young men of Italian descent was working to build a club to bring together people of Italian ancestry and people who chose this country as their adopted land. And to preserve our heritage, and to share with others, and in doing so create understanding, goodwill, and unity,” explained Club President Vincent Orlando.
Wives and girlfriends were present throughout the build, and two years later, the Ladies Auxiliary was formed.
“We have a strong Ladies Auxiliary. They’ve helped us over the years and they contribute back to the club. Everyone pitches in” shared past president and long-time board member Domenic Muratore.
The founding families are credited with using the first two letters of the names Dante, Verdi, and DiMaggio to form the word Davedi.
“And that is what the club recognizes; education, music, and sport,” shared Orlando.
The secret to its longevity is having members willing to roll up their sleeves and get down to work when needed.
“If it wasn’t for volunteers, we probably would have been closed by now. Volunteers give of their time, their money, their work,” said Muratore.
“Most Italians have a trade, so we all pull together for odd jobs. We raise the money, we do the work, and no money is paid. The club has survived all these years because of that.”
The archives identify many of the families responsible for the club’s growth.
“It is just amazing when you find some of the names. I think anybody that was Italian and their friends was a member of this club,” stated Orlando.
Over the past seven decades, the Davedi Club has hosted thousands of events including wedding receptions, meetings, anniversaries, birthdays, celebrations of life, as well as many dignitaries.
The club also proudly gives back to the community.
“Non-profit charities are allowed to use this for a meeting room or events at no charge and on top of that we always help raise money for organizations that are non-profit,” Orlando said.
Muratore added, “We’re a non-profit club and we contribute to the community at large. Recently, we helped raise $10,000 for the Ukraine fund. We contribute to One Kids Place, and different churches and we contribute to the Hospice quite a bit. We try to help everyone out as much as we can.”
Orlando says the current membership sits at around 400, with roughly 60 women forming the Ladies Auxiliary.
“One thing I’m proud of as president is that we have 21 different nationalities that are members, so you don’t have to be Italian to belong,” Orlando noted.
While many clubs struggle to engage the younger generation, the future seems bright for the Davedi Club.
“I’ve got to give credit to Jim Marmino. He developed quite a core of young people and now we have a number of people on our board under 30 years old, and they’re very active. So the club is in very good shape,” said Orlando.
The Italian culture is actively promoted.
“We do our annual grape stomping night. It is always a sell-out. We do a big family picnic and there is always a great turnout,” said Orlando.
“We have programs for kids. We have Italian classes, we also have our monthly spaghetti supper, and we also do a golf tournament. So we’re very active.”
For the past 15 years, deserving people have been recognized with the Davedi Club Order of Merit.
“We honour people throughout the community whose volunteer work and dedication have made our community a better place to live,” explained Orlando.
The club tries to engage people of all ages.
“We have our family Christmas party and our New Year's Eve party. We have the annual anniversary party to keep members involved. And we have monthly dinner meetings,” said Muratore.
On any night of the week, Mamma Davedi’s Frozen Foods can be found on dinner tables across the city.
“Everybody loves our food because we take pride in making it and preparing it fresh. And it has been really successful for us. It started roughly 30 years ago, to promote our culture. Our food has gone everywhere, it has gone to places across southern Ontario and even as far away as Montreal,” explained Vice-President Sandro Cipparrone.
Frozen food sales brought in money during the pandemic.
“It helps pay the bills, especially with no business during COVID,” shared Muratore.
“We broke even, so at least our doors didn’t close.”
Here’s to another 70 years of good friends, good food, and good times at the Davedi Club. Salute!