New York City's biggest, most famous and longest running religious festival - The 88th Annual Feast of San Gennaro, Inc. – will take place in Little Italy for 11 days starting Thursday, September 11, and continuing through Sunday, September 21, 2014. The Feast is presented by Figli di San Gennaro (Children of San Gennaro), a not-for-profit community organization which has produced and operated the Feast since 1996.
The beloved Feast of San Gennaro is an annual celebration of the Patron Saint of Naples. The first Feast in New York City took place on September 19, 1926 when newly arrived immigrants from Naples settled along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy section of New York City and decided to continue the tradition they had followed in Italy to celebrate the day in 305 A.D. when Saint Gennaro was martyred for the faith.

Since then, the Feast has grown from a one-day street festival to a gala 11-day event. On September 19 during each Feast, a Religious Procession, including the Statue of San Gennaro, winds along the length of Mulberry and Mott Streets, between Canal and Houston Streets. The procession begins immediately following a Celebratory Mass held at the Most Precious Blood Church on Mulberry Street, the National Shrine of San Gennaro.

"Although there is a party atmosphere that permeates the Feast, this is really a religious celebration that has become a proud tradition handed down from our grandparents," a Figli di San Gennaro, Inc. board member and longtime neighborhood resident Emily DePalo says. "For 11 days and nights the streets of Little Italy are filled with happy people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds eating fabulous Italian cuisine, listening to great live entertainment and just having a wonderful time. But there is a religious purpose behind it which is never forgotten, and that becomes evident on September 19th, the Saint's Day."

The continued growth of the Feast over the past ten years has enabled Figli di San Gennaro, Inc. to donate more than $1.8-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.

One of the most popular events each year in New York City, the Feast of San Gennaro attracts crowds exceeding 1-million people during its 11-day run. Activities for the entire family take place along Mulberry Street, Hester Street and Grand Street, from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (midnight on Fridays and Saturdays). The streets are decorated with festive banners and arches in green, white and red, the colors of the Italian flag.

More than 35 of Little Italy's most famous Italian restaurants roll out the red carpet for Feast visitors, and many provide outdoor dining facilities for the event, offering a variety of Italian specialty foods and pastries. Some restaurants even have strolling musicians to entertain their customers.

In addition, there are more than 200 street vendors who set up shop along the Festival Streets selling a wide variety of goods and merchandise, including international foods, official Little Italy souvenir items and boutique merchandise including jewelry and clothing. The Feast also has a number of arcade games as well as many fun activities for the younger members of the family, including carnival rides.

 

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