The 86th Annual Feast of San Gennaro, New York City’s longest-running, biggest and most revered religious outdoor festival, will take place Thursday, September 13 through Sunday, September 23, 2012, on the streets of historic Little Italy, the lower Manhattan neighborhood which served as the first home in America for hundreds of thousands of Italian immigrants seeking a better life in the early 20th century.
This year’s Feast will have its 11th Annual Cannoli Eating Competition and Blessing of the Stands on Opening Day (Thursday, Sept. 13), a Celebratory Mass for San Gennaro in Most Precious Blood Church followed by a Religious Procession with the Statue on Wednesday, September 19, a Grand Procession on Saturday, September 15, and a Blood Drive sponsored by Figli di San Gennaro, organizers of the Feast, and The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, on Sunday, Sept. 23.
There will be various eating competitions, and live performances nightly on the Feast Performance Stage, including the annual Enrico Caruso Opera Night on Tuesday, September 18, live radio broadcasts on Saturday, Saturday, September 15 (WCBS-FM hosted by Joe Causi) and Saturday, September 22 (Sirius XM Satellite Radio, hosted by Bruce Morrow).
Presented annually since 1996 by Figli di San Gennaro, Inc. (Children of San Gennaro), a not-for-profit community organization dedicated to keeping alive the spirit and faith of the early Italian immigrants, this year’s Feast is expected to once again attract more than one-million people from the four corners of the globe to the streets of Little Italy to celebrate the annual celebration of the Patron Saint of Naples – Saint Januarius.
Although this is an annual celebration of faith, the Feast of San Gennaro is known the world over for its festive atmosphere, an 11-day street festival featuring religious processions and colorful parades, free musical entertainment every evening, a wide variety of ethnic food delicacies, charming restaurants and cafes and even a world-famous cannoli-eating competition!
The central focus of the celebration takes place every September 19th, the official Saint Day when a celebratory Mass is held in Most Precious Blood Church, the National Sanctuary of San Gennaro, followed by a religious procession in which the Statue of San Gennaro is carried from its permanent home in the church through the streets of Little Italy.
“The Feast of San Gennaro holds a special place in the hearts of Italian people everywhere,” says Joseph Mattone, President of Figli di San Gennaro, Inc. “It is a festive period of faith and redemption, a time for remembrance and reconciliation, and a time for celebration. The Feast brings the world to Little Italy and Little Italy to the world.”
One of the most popular annual attractions in New York City, the Feast of San Gennaro features activities for the entire family that take place along Mulberry, Hester and Grand Streets, from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (midnight on Fridays and Saturdays). The local streets are decorated with festive banners and arches in green, white and red, the colors of the Italian flag. More than 40 of Little Italy's most famous Italian restaurants, many of them landmarks, roll out the red carpet for Feast visitors, and many provide outdoor dining facilities for the event, offering a wide variety of Italian specialty foods and pastries. Some restaurants even have strolling musicians to entertain their customers.
The area’s Italian restaurants and cafes obtain special city permits to serve Italian food delicacies, beer and wine at tables set up outside their establishments. More than 200 vendors operate stalls throughout the Feast selling Italian favorites as sausage and pepper sandwiches, zeppoles, calzones and gelatos, pizzas and pastas. There are also carnival games and rides.
Over 1-million visitors from all over the globe attend the Feast each year. The festivities include religious processions, parades, free musical entertainment nightly, food and cooking demos and a professional cannoli-eating contest.
The official Feast Day on Tuesday, Sept. 19, is celebrated with a Celebratory Mass at 5 PM in Most Precious Blood Church, 110 Baxter Street, with several church dignitaries in attendance. The Mass is followed immediately by a Religious Procession at 6 PM as the Statue of the Saint is carried through the streets of Little Italy.
Other highlights of this year’s 86th Annual Feast of San Gennaro:
-- The 11th Annual Little Italy Cannoli Eating Competition on Thursday, Sept. 13, at 2 PM, featuring professional eaters in a competition sanctioned by the International Federation of Professional Eaters;
-- The Blessing of the Stands on Opening Day, Thursday, September 13 at 6 PM, when clergy from Most Precious Blood Church walk through the Feast blessing the vendors and merchants;
-- The Grand Procession on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 2 PM.
A Performance Stage at Grand and Mott Streets will feature nightly live entertainment, including concerts, special events and radio broadcasts, as well as food and cooking demos and other special events during the afternoon hours.
There will be at least two live radio broadcasts from the stage this year:
-- Popular radio personality Joe Causi will host his live three-hour WCBSFM 101.1 broadcast on Saturday, September 15, starting at 7 PM; and
-- Bruce Morrow (‘Cousin Brucie’) will originate his three-hour Sirius XM Satellite Radio program on Saturday, Sept. 22, starting at 7 PM.
CBS Radio affiliates – WCBSFM 101.1, 92.3 NOW and FRESH 102.7 -- will all also have their own booths at the Feast.
The performance stage will be busy from 2 PM to 10 PM every day. There will be olive oil and cheese tastings, a fashion show, wine tastings and cooking and food preparation demonstrations daily from 2 to 4 PM.
The Feast of San Gennaro was first held in New York City on Sept. 19, 1926 when newly arrived immigrants from Naples, Italy, settled in apartment houses along Mulberry Street in an area that soon became known as ‘Little Italy.’
In addition to seeking a better quality of life in America, these new Americans brought with them a rich culture and deep religious heritage, including the centuries-old tradition they had followed in Italy to celebrate the day in 305 A.D. when Saint Gennaro was martyred for the faith. In the ensuing years, the Feast has grown from a one-day street celebration to a gala 11-day event. The Feast is a religious celebration that has become a proud tradition handed down from generation to generation of Italian-Americans.
Figli di San Gennaro, Inc., the community-based, not-for-profit charitable organization, distributes its financial support to children and parochial schools throughout the Archdiocese of New York. To date, it has donated $ 1.8million from the Feasts to causes supporting children and education
Joseph Mattone is the President of the Figli di San Gennaro Board of Directors. Other members of the Board include: Vivian Catenaccio, Vice President/Treasurer; Emily DePalo, Secretary; Anthony Cannataro, John Fratta, The Hon. Joseph G. Golia, Ernest Magliato and Robert Marshall.
Sponsors of the 86th Annual Feast of San Gennaro include: Tums Freshers, KIA Motors, Bertolli Olive Oil, Pepsi Cola, Peroni Beer, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Fresh 102.7FM, 92.3NOW FM, WCBSFM 101.1 and Italian Tribune.
For more information, call 212-768-9320 or visit www.sangennaro.org.
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