Volume 76, Number 44 | March 28 - April 3, 2007

Critics: Fughedabout Gennaro feast

By Brooke Edwards

The future of the annual Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy remains a bit uncertain, after a subcommittee of Community Board 2 voted to deny the application for this year’s festivities. Though the decision ultimately rests with the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit, C.B. 2’s recommendation may still hold sway over the fate of the popular event.

Bob Gormley, C.B. 2 district manager, said one reason the board’s Street Activities Committee denied the request was because no one from the San Gennaro festival attended the meeting. The group planning the feast says they did not receive any notification that their request would be voted on at the March 7 meeting, though Gormley says C.B. 2 sent them a letter a week in advance.

The other reason the application was denied was because the only people who did attend the meeting opposed the event, saying their quality of life is disrupted by the noise, crowds and street closures, plus trash left on the streets when it ends.

Lillian Tozzi, who lives on Mulberry St. in the festival area, said, “We have 99 days a year where our streets are closed. It’s very, very disruptive.”

Tozzi also objects to the feast because, she said, “The feast the way it is now is not really a traditional Italian feast anyway. It’s an international feast.” Tozzi says that ever since former Mayor Giuliani stopped the Mafia from running the festival, it has gone downhill. She says the festival is not kept clean, with rats running around on the grills and tables left up overnight.

“No one’s enforcing anything,” she said.

The subcommittee heard these complaints and issued their denial. The application then went before the full community board on March 22, who bounced it back to the subcommittee for a revote at a time when San Gennaro could be present.

The subcommittee will vote again on the festival’s fate at their next meeting on April 17. Gormley fully expects that there will be people on both sides of the argument present.

The feast started in Little Italy in 1926 to honor San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, who was martyred in 305 A.D. It takes place over 11 days, surrounding the Sept. 19 anniversary of Gennaro’s death. There are parades, entertainment and food stands, with a celebratory Mass and candlelit procession along Mulberry and Mott Sts. carrying a statue of the saint from the Church of the Most Precious Blood.

Regarding the dispute about this year’s festival, the church’s pastor, Fabian Grifone, said, “As far as I’m concerned it’s approved. The feast means too much to this city.” He said they are continuing to move forward and plan for the festival, scheduled to take place Sept. 13 through Sept. 23.

“The people who objected to the feast, they knew about it before they moved in,” Grifone added. “It’s been going on for 80 years. If they didn’t like it, they shouldn’t have moved here.”


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