Mulberry Street is decorated green, white and red. The aroma of Italian meats and pastries fills the air, Frank Sinatra tracks and live music play in the distance and the streets are packed with people of all cultures, ethnicities and ages.
This is the Feast of San Gennaro. It started as a block party in 1926 to honor the Patron Saint of Naples and is now an 11 day celebration that stretches ten blocks. Italian immigrants brought the Feast to the neighborhood when they arrived in the early twentieth century, and it has thrived ever since.
The heart of the festival is not only religion, but food. First, it’s definitely a meat lover’s dream: every kind of cured meat is available at San Gennaro. The most popular picks from the crowd seemed to be meatballs, sausage and pepper sandwiches and kebabs.
The variety of pastries is also tremendous. Cannolis, macaroons, zeppoles, biscotti, lobster claws, cheesecake and gelato – just to name a few.
Other notable eats were fried pickles on a stick, spinach and ricotta pies, fried mozzarella balls, grilled summer corn and raviolis.
From the basic sweet teas and lemonades to the piña coladas inside of coconuts and the margaritas inside of pineapples, there is no shortage of liquor at the festival either. Italians do caffeine right too: espresso, cappuccinos, lattes, and matcha are all sold for coffee lovers.
Aside from the food and drinks, there is live music everyday, as well as meatball eating contests, a ferris wheel, and game stands.
For Manhattan College students, especially Italian Jaspers who want to honor their heritage, this festival is the perfect place to do it and only a subway ride away. Residence Life made San Gennaro the “Saturday in the City” program event on Sept. 17, and an abundance of students go themselves each year as well.
Through the immersion of culture, music, food and entertainment, San Gennaro gives New Yorkers the kind of celebration that fills up our stomachs and our souls.