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The Feast of San Gennaro || Lifestyles

With the weather finally getting chilly and the lively fall nights approaching us, September has been the perfect month for an outdoor food festival in the greatest city in the world: New York City. The Feast of San Gennaro took place in Little Italy, which is located in the borough of Manhattan, from September 10th to September 20th. White, green, and red lights bounded by garland were twinkling from the streetlights, restaurants, bars, and cafes had their doors and windows wide open, welcoming in the crowd, and food stands were set up for blocks upon blocks. Carnival attractions were also set up and live music was filling the crisp fall air. The Feast of San Gennaro was the perfect spot to be for all ages. Parents with young children were spotted crowding by the carnival rides, people in their twenties were found swarming the bars, older couples were located taking in the décor and scenery, along with many other types of people of all different ages. Different cultures came together to experience one: the Italian culture. Gelato, tiramisu, spaghetti, rigatoni, pizza, and so many other famous Italian treats and dishes were sprawled along the food stands; all reasonably priced and all equally as delicious.

The festival was affordable, and made a great stop for college kids on a budget. Caitlin Smoler, a sophomore Health Studies student, overall really enjoyed the festival. “Although it was really overcrowded, the festival was a lot of fun because there was so much to do and the food was amazing,” said Smoler. The crowds at these festivals could get a bit chaotic, but that’s just because it was appealing to a variety of people. The location was ideal, so the festival definitely brought in a very large crowd. Rebecca Roth, a sophomore Communication student, also attended the festival, but had a differing opinion than Smoler. “It was a good experience but it didn’t seem authentic enough,” she said. “I was actually unimpressed by the festival this year because of all of the people. It was still fun, though, because I went with my friends and we made the best of it,” said Roth. The crowd was easy to look past if you went with good company and an easy going attitude.

Online Exclusive2Although it was an Italian festival, all people of all different cultures and backgrounds were welcome to come. Communication instructor, Nicholas Messina, who identifies as an Italian-American, attended the festival as well. “It wasn’t authentic enough. You don’t go to Italy and eat sausage and peppers. If it was marketed as an Italian-American festival, that would be one thing, not an Italian festival,” said Messina. The Feast of San Gennaro definitely did not feature your Grandma’s homemade Pizza, or your mom’s infamous authentic pasta dish, but it did accurately depict the Italian-American culture we see throughout all fifty states, especially here in New Jersey. The food was definitely Americanized to an extent, but it was still tasty and worth the indulgence.

This year was the 89th year that the festival was held, so it’s a significant celebration. Little Italy, where the festival takes place every year, was home to many of America’s first Italian immigrants in the beginning of the 1900’s. The festival honors the Patron Saint of Naples, so while the festival might seem like just a fun time, it actually holds deep meaning that is dear to many Italian-Americans’ hearts.

The Feast of San Gennaro was historic, bustling, and undoubtedly tasty this year as it is every year. It was expected to bring in over a million people this year, all there to celebrate the vibrant Italian culture. Originally created to store and celebrate the culture of the Italian immigrants that came to America, it has remained to be just that, but has also blossomed into even more. The Feast of San Gennaro is a place with booming ethnicity and unforgettable memories. But when the sun began to set, the twinkling lights started to dim, and the vendors closed up their stands. Just last Sunday on September 20th, the charming food festival came to a close. Until next year San Gennaro.

PHOTOS COURTESY of Emily Ciavatta