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.
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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