The 96th annual Feast of San Gennaro, which showcases the culture and traditions of Manhattan’s Little Italy, kicked off September 15 and was off to a great start.
“Yesterday, September 19th, was the feast day,” says Vivian Catenaccio, president of the organization Figli Di San Gennaro (“Children of San Gennaro”).
“We had [San Gennaro’s] high mass and carried his statue through Mulberry Street, as is our tradition for 96 years.”
In addition to the procession of the statue, the Feast is known for its colorful displays, rides, musical performances — and most of all, its food.
At historic Little Italy cafe Ferrara’s, the triangular pastry from Naples known as sfogliatella is particularly popular.
“Our grandfather was from Avellino, outside Naples,” says owner Ernest Lepore. “We have reverence for the sfogliatella. We do everything ourselves. We make our own sfogliatella, ours are still made by hand.”
“15,000 cannoli we went through already this week,” adds Lepore.
“Nice and Crazy”
While the festival celebrates the Italian-American culture that blossomed in the neighborhood beginning in the late 1800s, the Feast also draws vendors and tourists from the “old country” itself.
Alessandro Galeotti, an Italian national who grew up in Palermo, Sicily, says, “It’s been very good so far.”
He works for pizzeria Blue Eyes, which employs pizza makers straight from Italy and makes pizzas in the traditional Neapolitan style. Blue Eyes has a stand at San Gennaro for the first time this year.
“The first year for us has been nice and crazy,” says Galeotti. “You get people from everywhere.”
“The vendors are happy,” concludes Catenaccio. “The visitors are happy, and what could be better than that?”
The Feast will run until September 25. Those interested in a schedule of all the events can visit https://sangennaronyc.org/event-calendar/.