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This is the last weekend for the 87th Annual Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy, which wraps up on Sunday. Last night, we took these photos of the crowds, the food and the carnival games on Mulberry Street, as well as the procession featuring the Statue of San Gennaro and the interior of the Church of the Most Precious Blood. Yesterday, September 19th, was the day of the saint’s martyrdom in the 4th century and thus the procession and the miracle. We were told that at 9:30am in Naples, where his body is preserved and he is honored as the city’s principal patron, the blood of San Gennaro liquefied.

According to a pamphlet at the Shrine of San Gennaro on Baxter Street

The blood of Saint Gennaro is contained in two glass phials of different shapes and sizes. Both phials are perfectly sealed and are enclosed in a metal case which permits them to be exposed to view. The blood in the larger phial reaches about the halfway mark; in the smaller container only a few drops are seen adhering to the bottom.

And the prodigy? This martyr’s blood, which is normally solidified and of a dark color, occasionally becomes liquid and reddish, sometimes frothing, bubbling up, and increasing in volume. This usually occurs twice a year: on the first Sunday of May, the feast of the transfer of the saint’s relics; also on September 19, the anniversary of the martyrdom

Time Magazine lists the Blood of San Gennaro among the Top 10 religious relics. Belief in the miracle has continued because in years when the blood failed to liquefy, catastrophe struck: the plague of 1527, an earthquake in 1980 and even the defeat of the Napoli soccer club.

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San Gennaro

Festival Wheel at San Gennaro, Little Italy. September 18, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

It’s that time of year when you get to ride a Ferris wheel set up on the street like in the early 1900s and peer inside apartment windows as you whirl by! The 86th Annual Feast of San Gennaro in New York City’s Little Italy, the world’s most famous street fair, opens on September 13th at 2pm with a Cannoli Eating Contest. If you’ve got the appetite, registration for the contest is now open on Major League Eating’s website. The guy to beat is Patrick Bertoletti, who consumed 32 large cannnoli in six minutes at last year’s festival.

A contingent of Coney Island game and food concessionaires have already decamped from the People’s Playground for Manhattan’s Mulberry Street. Monica the High Striker Queen has packed up her trio of strikers and sundry hammers and prizes, though she says she’ll be back to finish out the season in Coney after the feast ends on September 23rd. This is the spunky gal who told a Voice of America reporter that independent attractions like hers give Coney Island its soul. “Our spirit will live on long after we’re dead, honey. We are the blood, sweat and tears on the block,” said Monica in a feature about Coney’s amusement parks.

Monica

Look for Monica, the High Striker Queen of Coney Island at San Gennaro. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Also making the annual pilgrimage to San Gennaro are the proprietors of Gyro Corner, formerly on Coney Island’s Boardwalk and now on the Bowery. They serve different menu items than in Coney: it’s strictly calamari and Mama’s homemade sauce. Cha Cha’s outdoor bar and Steeplechase Park on Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island are now closed for the season, but John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia is also the owner of Cha Cha’s in Bocca Al Lupo Restaurant on Mulberry Street. They are among the more than 35 restaurants and 200 vendors along Mulberry between Houston and Canal and neighboring streets. Buon appetito!

The official feast day marking the anniversary of San Gennaro’s martyrdom is September 19th. After the 5pm Mass at Most Precious Blood Church, the statue of San Gennaro is paraded through the streets. If you go to the feast, make sure to bring crisp new bills, preferably in large denominations, to pin to the beribboned saint, and stop by the Italian American Museum at Mulberry and Grand Streets. At another parade on Saturday, September 15th, legendary singer Connie Francis, born Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero, will be one of the Grand Marshals riding on a float. Will she serenade the crowd with a medley of her hits from the 1950s and ’60s? A “Meet and Greet” with Connie Francis is scheduled for 4pm on Saturday at the feast’s performance stage at Grand and Mott Streets. The street festival runs from 11am till midnight.

ATZ slide show of the 2009 Feast of San Gennaro…

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World’s Smallest Woman Showfront, Coney Island. September 1, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On Saturday, the World’s Smallest Woman arrived for her annual run in Coney Island prior to playing the September 13-23rd Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy. The single-O attraction is set up in Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Park near the West 12th Street entrance. ATZ learned that this particular “World’s Smallest Woman” is named Elizabeth and hails from Haiti. She is one of sideshow impresario Jack Constantine’s five “World’s Smallest Women” who travel the U.S. carnival and fair circuit. We’ve seen this ever-popular attraction at the New York State Fair, Florida State Fair and State Fair Meadowlands, among others. Four of the ladies are Haitian and one is Jamaican.

In past years the show has charged as little as 50 cents admission. Whatever the price–it’s the front of the show that gets the dough! When the trailer-mounted showfront was unfolded, the fanciful, time-tested advertisement for the World’s Smallest Woman was revealed- “29 Tiny Inches – Hands 2 In. Wide. Size 2 Shoe – 10,000 Reward If Not Real and Alive. As Seen in LIFE – You Talk to Her – She Will Talk to You.”

World’s Smallest Woman

Detail of World’s Smallest Woman Showfront, Coney Island. September 1, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Freak Baby Museum of Dr. Takeshi Yamada at Feast of San Gennaro, Little Italy. September 16, 2010.  Photo courtesy of Takeshi Yamada

Freak Baby Museum of Dr. Takeshi Yamada at Feast of San Gennaro, Little Italy. September 16, 2010. Photo courtesy of Takeshi Yamada

At last year’s Feast of San Gennaro, ATZ photographed quite a few Coney Islanders who’d decamped with their games, sideshows and food stands to top off the season in Little Italy. One of the strangest sights at this year’s feast, which runs through September 26th, is Dr. Takeshi Yamada and his freak baby museum from Coney Island. The Neptune Avenue resident, whose studio is known as the Museum of World Wonders, has quite a family: There’s a Two-headed Baby, Mermaid Baby, Octopus Baby, Lobster Baby, Penguin Baby, and Three-headed Baby. “His” is not just a figure of speech–the six rogue taxidermy infants are made from Yamada’s own skin!

Yamada, who has an MFA in fine art from the University of Michigan School of Art and was Grand Champion of the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists in 2006, considers his artwork “specimens” rather than examples of self expression. He uses a variety of natural materials to create his curiosities including some that might be considered controversial.

When we wrote about the babies last year, readers inquired how the artist collected his skin. Yamada replied: “During summer months, I shed skins multiple times, and I carefully remove them from my body, save them, and preserve them as ‘specimens’ for my Cabinet of Curiosities. I mounted my own skin specimens on the super-realistic replicas of freak human babies, which I created. In this way their body surfaces look really real, [more] than ones replicated in other materials (rubber, plastic, fiberglass, clay etc.). In loose terms, my freak babies are my clones.”

Yamada’s full explanation, titled “Creatures as Art Supplies,” can be read in the comments section of a post written last year, “Thru Dec 31 at Coney Island Library: Artist Takeshi Yamada’s Cabinet of Curiosities.” It remains one of ATZ’s top 25 posts, thanks to curiosity about such curiosities as a mummified six-fingered witch’s hand and a three-eyed human skull. The free exhibition of oddities and rogue taxidermy artwork is currently in its fifth year at the Mermaid Avenue library, a six-minute walk from Stillwell Terminal. But if you want to see the freak babies, head over to San Gennaro or pay a visit to the nursery at Coney Island’s Museum of World Wonders.

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Floss & Apples at San Gennaro. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Floss & Apples at San Gennaro. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last Friday marked ATZ’s first weekend away from Coney Island and first weekend off since Memorial Day! After winding up the season at the People’s Playground on September 13, we soon began to miss the noise and the crowds. We headed over to the closest carnival—the 82nd Annual Feast of San Gennaro.

Strolling along Mulberry Street from Houston to Canal, we met quite a few Coney Islanders who’d brought their games, sideshows and food stands to Little Italy. In fact, the stand where we finally stopped for calamari because it looked the most appetizing turned out to be owned by the proprietors of Gyro Corner on Coney Island’s Boardwalk. Different menu in Little Italy, thanks to Mama’s sauce.

Carnival Rides on Grand Street. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Carnival Rides on Grand Street. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Hit the Hammer, Ring the Bell. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Monica from Dreamland. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Lucys Fabulous Marquee. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Lucy's Fabulous Marquee. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Lucy’s Palace is famous for their sausage sandwiches, but I was struck by the fabulous hand-painted marquee on their vintage trailer. A lot on Mulberry was filled with game concessionaires from Surf Ave and Dreamland and a trio of single-o’s direct from Coney Island. Kima “The Elephant Woman” made her sideshow debut this summer in Coney at John Strong’s Strangest Show on Earth. A ten-in-one sideshow with some former Coney freaks including Eak the Geek was there early in the week. You just never know who or what will turn up at this 10 day extravaganza in the narrow streets of Little Italy. This is the place where Coney Island’s world famous Shoot the Freak got its start!

Direct from Coney Island! Stephen was the talker at the Elephant Woman's single-o.  Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Direct from Coney Island! Stephen was the talker at one of the single-o's. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Toy Store Amusements Festival Wheel at San Gennaro. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Toy Store Amusements Festival Wheel at San Gennaro. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Toy Store Amusements’ Festival Wheel and three kiddie rides nudged up against the apartment buildings on Grand Street. In the increasingly gentrified streets of New York City, amusement rides at street fairs are becoming a rare sight. As far as carnival games, water race fun and one ball in wins were it.. The iPod Touch was the most hyped prize. The complete Photo Album: Coney Islanders and Carnies at San Gennaro can be viewed on flickr.

Lights at Figli di San Gennaro. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Lights at Figli di San Gennaro. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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