THE SAN GENNARO FEAST!

September 18, 2018 at 5:00 am

Little Italy is the place to be as the Feast of San Gennaro hits its stride. We’re bringing you the sights, smells and colorful personalities behind this iconic Manhattan event.

Aired on September 18, 2018. 

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>> IN MID SEPTEMBER IN LITTLE
ITALY, AND THAT COULD MEAN ONE
THING, IT'S TIME FOR THE FEAST
OF SAN GENNARO, WHERE MULBERRY
STREET CLOSES DOWN AND
TRANSFORMS INTO A FESTIVE
ATMOSPHERE.
>> THIS STARTED AS A ONE-DAY
BLOCK PARTY TO HONOR ST.
GENNARO.
>> WHAT YOU HAVE NOW IS AN
11-DAY FEAST FILLED WITH GREAT
FOOD AND EVENTS SQUEEZED INTO A
FEW BLOCKS IN LITTLE ITALY JUST
OFF OF CANAL STREET.
>> THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF
THIS FEAST IS THE GUY OVER HERE,
ST. GENNARO.
THAT'S THE FOCUS FOR US.
PEOPLE MAKE MONEY OVER HERE, AND
THAT'S GREAT.
BUT WITHOUT ST. GENNARO, WE HAVE
NOTHING.
AND IT'S HONORING THE PATRON
SAINT.
AND ON THE 19th OF HIS FEAST
DAY, THAT'S WHEN WE HAVE THE
SOLEMN MASS.
THE BISHOP IS COMING.
AND WE CARRIED THE SAINT THROUGH
THE STREETS.
>> WHO IS THIS PATRON ST.
GENNARO?
JOHN BROKE DOWN THE STORY AND
HOW THE FEAST MADE ITS WAY FROM
SOUTHERN ITALY TO A SMALL
ENCLAVE IN MANHATTAN.
>> ST. GENNARO IS THE PATRON
SAINT OF NAPLES.
HE WAS MARTYRED IN 305.
FIRST THEY TRIED TO POISON HIM,
IT DIDN'T WORK.
EVENTUALLY THEY CUT HIS HEAD
OFF.
WHAT HAPPENED, THE PEOPLE IN
NAPLES SOAKED UP HIS BLOOD AND
PUT THE BLOOD IN VIALS THAT ARE
AT THE CATHEDRAL IN NAPLES.
ON THE 19th, THE BLOOD
LIQUEFIES.
WHEN IT DOESN'T, SOMETHING HAD
IS GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE WORLD.
WORLD WAR II WAS THE LAST TIME.
>> INTERESTING STORY, AND NO ONE
KNOWS HOW THE BLOOD LIQUEFIES.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FEAST?
>> WHEN THE ITALIAN IMMIGRANTS
CAME HERE, THEY WERE ALL FROM
NAPLES, AND THEY BROUGHT BACK
THEIR TRADITION OF HONORING
THEIR PATRON SAINT.
IN ITALY, EVERYTHING IS DONE
OUTDOORS, SO THEY DID THAT HERE.
>> AND 90 PLUS YEARS LATER, IT'S
STILL GOING STRONG.
THE SIGHTS, SOUNDS, AND SMELL OF
LITTLE ITALY FILL THE AIR.
FEAST SINCE THE BEGINNING.
>> IT'S BEEN IN MY FAMILY, AND
IT'S SUCH A TRADITION.
IT'S MY HERITAGE.
SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO, LIKE
PART OF MY FAMILY.
>> Reporter: THE SIGNIFICANCE IS
CERTAINLY NOT LOST ON LUCY, WHO
WAS NAMED AFTER HER GRANDMOTHER,
AFTER SERVING COUNTLESS SAUSAGES
AND PEEPERS, SHE STILL GETS A
KICK OUT OF THE FEAST.
>> ALL THE EXCITEMENT AND THE
PEOPLE.
JUST EVERYTHING ABOUT IT.
IT'S NEW YORK.
PEOPLE LOOK FORWARD TO THIS.
IT'S ONE OF THE BIGGEST EVENTS
IN THE CITY.
AND ACTUALLY, EVERYBODY KNOWS
ABOUT IT.
92 YEARS, THEY KNOW EXACTLY THE
DATES, EVERYTHING.
>> THIS IS JUST ONE OF A HANDFUL
OF BUSINESSES OPEN DURING THE
FEAST.
THE BUSINESS IS ABUZZ AS THEY
GEAR UP SERVING SOME OF THE BEST
ITALIAN CHEESES AND MEATS FOR
THE FESS VALUE OF SAN GENNARO.
>> OH, MY GOSH.
I WAS TELLING SOMEBODY EARLIER,
I'VE BEEN DOWN HERE SINCE I WAS
A KID.
I REMEMBER EATING CANNOLI CREAM
DURING THE FEAST.
IT'S GREAT.
IT'S AMAZING.
JUST KEEPING THE TRADITION
ALIVE.
THIS IS ONGOING, YES, LITTLE
ITALY HAS GOTTEN SMALLER, BUT WE
STILL HAVE, YOU KNOW, OUR ELDERS
THAT ARE HERE THAT HAVE COME --
THEY'VE BEEN HERE WITH US FOR 70
YEARS IN THE STATES.
THEY GET A LITTLE HECTIC,
BECAUSE THEY'RE LIKE, WE GOT ALL
THIS STUFF GOING ON, BUT WE ALL
LOVE IT.
IT'S A WONDERFUL COMMUNITY.
>> Reporter: KEEPING THE
TRADITION ALIVE TAKES SOME HEAVY
LIFTING, ESPECIALLY WITH A
CHANCE OF RAIN.
BEFORE THE OPENING DAY, THERE
WAS LOTS OF SOUNDS OF WORK BEING
DONE TO MAKE LITTLE ITALY A BIT
MORE ITALIAN WITH OPEN AIR
SEATING AND FOOD STANDS.
THE LOGISTICAL PLANNING TAKES
WEEKS, IF NOT MONTHS.
BUT WHEN IT'S TIME TO BUILD, THE
BUSINESSES HAVE THREE DAYS.
WE CAUGHT UP WITH DANNY FRADA,
WHOSE FAMILY HAS BEEN HERE FOR
DECADES.
>> IT'S VERY SPECIAL TO ME.
THIS IS A LABOR OF LOVE, IT'S
NOT AN EASY THING TO DO.
BUT IT'S A PART OF WHO I AM.
BETWEEN THE CULTURES OF BEING
ITALIAN, AND THE FACT THAT, YES,
FOR ABOUT 80 YEARS, MY FAMILY,
NO ONE HAS BEEN ON THE CORNER OF
THIS FEAST OTHER THAN MY FAMILY.
WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT IS VERY
IMPORTANT TO ME.
THIS IS A PART OF WHO I AM.
>> IN ORDER TO GET THE JOB DONE,
SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO CALL IN
REINFORCEMENTS.
>> WE CALL EVERYBODY THAT WE
KNOW.
HEY, THE FEAST IS COMING UP,
NEED YOU FOR 11 DAYS.
MY ONE AUNT INERS JERSEY IS COM
DOWN EVERY DAY.
>> IT RUNS UNTIL SUNDAY,
SEPTEMBER 23rd.
FOR A LIST OF EVENTS THAT ARE
HAPPENING DURING THE FEAST,
INCLUDING A MEATBALL EATING
CONTEST, BEING HELD IN THE HONOR
OF JOHN, WHO WAS KNOWN HERE IN
THE NEIGHBORHOOD AS CHA CHA, AND
THE UNOFFICIAL MAYOR OF LITTLE
ITALY.
AND CHECK OUT THE CANDLE LIT
PROCESSION ON SATURDAY,
SEPTEMBER 22.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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