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2016 Year in Review: Zezzas take the lead at Pepper Fest once again

It was 1965 when then Mayor "Dago Dan" Zezza led the Pepper Fest parade with his three "Little Peppers," daughter Denise and sons Jack and Bobby. (Star-Observer archive photo)1 / 3
The three Little Peppers recreated that photo of them with their father, North Hudson Mayor Dan Zezza last winter. Pictured from left is Denise, Jackson and Bobby Zezza who died last year. Driving the car is Bobby's grandson and Dan's great-grandson, another Dan Zezza. (submitted photo) 2 / 3
Barb Zezza Smrdel, center, remember the early days of Pepper Fest with Pepper Fest board members Tim Zais and Holly Steele. (photo by Meg Heaton)3 / 3

This year’s Pepper Fest saw some familiar faces take the lead in the annual parade.

The grand marshals were part of one of North Hudson's first families — the Zezzas. The plan was to have Jack and Bobby Zezza, along with their aunt, Barb Zezza Smrdel, serve as the parade leaders. Unfortunately, both Bobby and Barb died just recently. But Jack and Bobby's grandson, Dan Zezza, was there to represent.

Mayor “Dago” Dan Zezza led the Pepper Fest parade in 1955. Accompanying him in the convertible provided by Ray Casanova were his three grandchildren, as the aka “3 Little Peppers” — Denise, Jack and Bobby. Zezza was the mayor for North Hudson for 25 years and was instrumental in the establishment of Pepper Fest as an annual event and fundraiser.

A photo from the Star Observer archive documented the event. The little peppers recreated the photo this past winter. Driving was Mayor Zezza’s great-grandson and namesake, another Dan Zezza. He is a regional manager for Corporate Management Group in the Twin Cities.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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