THE SAN GENNARO FEAST!

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. 

TRANSCRIPT

> 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.

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