Garlic Festival Association says goodbye to one of its own

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The Garlic Festival family is coping with the loss of a longtime, integral team member who always went the “extra mile” and built relationships that are “almost impossible to replace.”
Peter Ciccarelli, 60, the event’s marketing and promotions specialist of 16 years who kept the public filled in on festival 411, passed away in his sleep early Saturday morning, according to Executive Director Brian Bowe.
“I’m still just kind of in shock,” said Bowe, who has been at his post since March 2006. “I know it’s never gonna be the same and that’s the sad part.”
While Peter struggled with multiple sclerosis for “years and years and years,” according to Bowe, “obvious aside, he was really doing fine.”
Peter lived in Capitola and is survived by his wife and daughter.
Since 1997, Peter was the voice and organizer behind official announcements proclaiming all things related to the world-renown festival, from the annual elite pool of Cook-Off contest finalists; to exciting new developments such as last year’s inaugural College Bowl; to happy milestones such as exceeding the $10 million mark in revenue distribution for local nonprofit organizations.
“He was a wonderful man,” commented Deanna Franklin, who has volunteered at the festival since she was 8, became Cook-Off chair two years ago and will be Vice President of the festival in 2014. “He was a big part of the team and worked really well with everybody at the association…he’s going to be missed but never forgotten.”
Peter’s ability to connect with people and build meaningful relationships “in this sometimes cold, digital age of ones and zeros” is a trait that set him apart and a quality Bowe says he will miss the most.
“Peter was a relationship guy. He would never be someone to have a meeting on Skype – he was a two hour lunch. Unfortunately that’s a rare thing anymore,” Bowe noted. “I’m gonna miss that most of all. Peter would never leave me a voice mail message at work; he would always call back so we could actually talk. I checked my phone just yesterday, just to confirm what I thought I knew, but in the last year-and-a-half, Peter had sent me a total of five text messages – and this was a guy I communicated with five times a week. I’m gonna miss that. I will miss someone I had a meaningful relationship with. Not just a business relationship, but a true relationship – and that’s how I’ll always think about Peter.”
Finding someone to fill those shoes will be “tough” Bowe added.
“It’s all of the relationships that he had with the people at all of those radio stations and TV stations. He took people food all the time, he did things that nobody else does,” Bowe continued. “He fostered those relationships so that the festival was always in the front of people’s minds in the media. It’s easy to do just the ad buys…it’s almost impossible to replace those relationships.”
Bowe recalled one year when his parents attended the festival. His mother needed motorized scooter, so Peter “stepped up immediately” and offered one of his own. When the battery ran out, “Peter jumped up and made sure she had a golf cart to ride around in,” Bowe chuckled. “The next thing I know I see my parents riding around in a golf cart around the festival. He went out of his way to make sure my own mom was comfortable. It’s just that extra mile.”

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