Re and Regina Anthony and Diana Mattioda continue family tradition

May 10—When Anthony and Diana Mattioda are crowned as Re and the Regina of the 52nd Annual McAlester Italian Festival, they will continue a family tradition.

Anthony and Diana Mattioda are set to be crowned Re and Regina of the 2024 Italian Festival during opening ceremonies on the festival's main stage, set for 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 11. The festival is set to continue through 7 p.m. Saturday.

When they are crowned, the Mattiodas will follow a family tradition set by Anthony's parents, Tony and Gloria Mattioda, of Hartshorne, who were crowned the Italian Festival Re and Regina in 1996.

Anthony and Diana Mattioda said they are glad to serve as the next Re and Regina for the long-running event.

"It's an honor to be asked to carry on the Italian tradition of this area," Anthony Mattioda said. "With the family history, it's special."

Diana Mattioda said she felt like she became part of Anthony's Italian family when they married.

"His whole family has been really proud of their Italian heritage," she said.

Anthony said Diana shares in the family traditions.

"She's adopted into the Italian heritage," he said.

That meant joining with Anthony's family for everything from cooking to playing traditional Italian games, such as morra. Diana Mattioda remembers lots of time spent in the kitchen with Anthony's mother, Gloria, making sauce and cooking dishes for huge Italian meals, including raviolis.

"Somebody would be cutting the dough and someone else would be rolling the dough," she said. "It's one of those memories I miss."

Anthony said one of the best things about his Italian heritage is the food.

"I love a bowl of polenta, Italian sausage and spaghetti," he said.

Anthony Mattioda said both sides of his parents' and grandparents' families came to the U.S., then to the Krebs, McAlester and Hartshorne areas, from Italy.

"They came here to work in the coal mines," Anthony said.

It began on his father's side when Joe Sr., Louis, Sam and an earlier Anthony Mattioda traveled to America from Castellamonte, Italy in 1909 to work in the coal mines, first settling in Krebs. A sister, Maria, also came to the U. S. and settled in Pennsylvania.

Joe Sr. later returned to Italy to bring his bride, Victoria Mattioda, back to his new home in America. They had nine children, including Anthony's father, Tony Mattioda. He would later marry Gloria Ranallo, who was the daughter of another coal miner, Lige Ranallo.

On Anthony's maternal grandparents' side, Frank Ranallo traveled to the U.S. from Pescocostanzo, Italy around 1897. After arriving in America, he worked for the city of New York until he saved enough money to send for his wife, Filomena, and their two sons, Joe and Lige.

After they arrived in America, the family moved to the area known as Buck, near Krebs. More children were born and family members worked in mines in the area, as well as on a family farm. Some family members later moved to the Hartshorne and Dow areas.

Lige Ranallo would marry his wife, Ann, becoming Anthony Mattioda's maternal grandparents.

Diana Mattioda told a family story about how Anthony's parents, Tony Mattioda and Gloria Ranallo, met.

"She was going to a convent," Diana said of Gloria's plans. Her sister talked her into going to a dance before she left.

"She went to the dance and met Anthony's dad, Tony," she said. Tony Mattioda had been supposed to work in a coal mine that night, but decided to go the dance instead, where he met his future bride.

As for Anthony and Diana Mattioda, after the two Hartshorne High School graduates were married, Anthony spent much of his career working for General Motors in places such as Oklahoma City, Fort Wayne, Indiana and Arlington, Texas.

When they returned to the McAlester area, Anthony worked at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant until his retirement.

Anthony and Diana Mattioda are the parents of three adult children: Nick Mattioda, Mitch Mattioda and Matthew "Matt" Mattioda.

They also are the grandparents five grandchildren: Madisynne, Gavin, Evelynn, Kenna and Asher. Anthony and Diana have made a point of teaching their children and grandchildren about their Italian heritage.

"We've tried to pass it on to them," said Anthony.