The Annual Feast of San Gennaro is New York City’s longest-running, biggest and most revered religious outdoor festival in the United States. This is the 85th anniversary of the festival, which will be held Thursday, September 15, through Sunday, September 25, 2011, on the streets of the historic Little Italy neighborhood in lower Manhattan. This neighborhood served as the first home in America for hundreds of thousands of Italian immigrants who came here seeking to improve their lives, beginning in the early part of the 20th century.
Since 1996, the festival has been run by the "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. San Gennaro is the Patron Saint of Naples, Italy. When newly arrived immigrants from Naples settled along Mulberry Street, in what would become the "Little Italy" section of New York City, they decided to continue a tradition they had followed in their hometown in Italy. That was to celebrate the day in 305 A.D. when Saint Gennaro was martyred for the faith. Each year on September 19th, a religious procession of the Statue of San Gennaro, winds along the length of Mulberry and Mott Streets, between Canal and Houston Streets. The procession begins after a celebratory Mass held at the Most Precious Blood Church on Mulberry Street, which is also the National Shrine of San Gennaro.
My husband and I went to the feast on Friday evening, and strolled the many blocks looking at all the food, rides, games, live music and local sights along with the rest of the large crowd. The feast is quite popular and attracts up to a million visitors of all ethnic groups over its eleven days.
The predominantly Italian food was in abundance and it was all very tempting!
There were all kinds of gelato, pastries, calzones, pizzas, pastas, stuffed clams, seafood salad, fried calamari, rice balls, sausage and peppers and onions, roasted pork, beef and chicken, sauteed broccoli rabe, biscotti, a nougat candy called torrone, and Zeppoles, which are fried dough sweetened with powdered sugar.
More than 35 of Little Italy's most famous Italian restaurants provide outdoor dining facilities for the event. We decided to dine al fresco at one of my husband's many favorite restaurants in Little Italy. I had linguine with a light tomato sauce yopped with shrimp and clams, and my husband had Veal Sorrentino, which is basically veal cutlets cooked with prosciutto, eggplant and mozzarella cheese. Delicious!
We stayed well into the late evening, enjoying all the festivities.
According to the Feast of San Gennaro web site : "The continued growth of the Feast over the past ten years has enabled Figli di San Gennaro, Inc. to donate more than $1.6-million to worthy causes providing valuable services for children and education in the Little Italy community and beyond. At the conclusion of each annual Feast, sizeable donations are distributed to scores of worthy organizations in all five boroughs and the tri-state area to help the needy and the young. No other public festival donates more money to charity than does the Feast of San Gennaro."
Below is a short video I took of one of the vendors at the feast, you can also watch it at this link.
The Feast of San Gennaro is a wonderful way to enjoy one of the old time ethnic neighborhoods of New York City and enjoy some delicious food and support a good cause. We wouldn't miss it!
I'm adding this post to "Mosaic Monday" event on Mary's blog Little Red House, the new Our World Tuesday, and "Rednesday" on Sue's blog It's A Very Cherry World. Thanks to the hosts!