Photos 27 Sep 2009 08:25 am

The Feast

- Every year, Little Italy bursts aflame as the San Gennaro Feast sets up and sits over a 10 day period. (In New York we just call them – there are about three or four of these annually in Manhattan and others in the outer boroughs – the “Feast” and everyone knows what you’re talking about.) This is a “feast” built around the Old St. Patrick’s church, downtown. It goes for about 15 city blocks and is crammed with an estimated million people annually. (I think most of them come from New Jersey.)

I enjoy taking in these “Feasts” and have gone to many over my lifetime. It’s usually best to go at night when it’s dark and the lights are brightest. This year, Heidi and I took in San Gennaro going earlier, at twilight.

We came at the “Feast” from the North end crossing Prince St.
at Mott. From there you could see the endless decoration.

As you move into the throngs of people the area gets closer and
closer, tighter and tighter. Not for those with claustrophobia.

Almost immediately you come upon the games.
Lots of colorful dolls to win for a small price.
As we went on the prizees grew more Hi-tech –
Ipods, cell phones etc.

There was the obnoxious clown you could dunk in a tank of water.
He spends his nights hurling insults at the people trying to dunk him.

Of course, there’s the water pistol game where you try to
blow up a balloon faster than other competitors.
There’s always a winner.

The sign on the ground showed us the back door to the church.

It led us through a corridor with gated windows which
led out to the ancient cemetary.

The end of this corridor opens to reveal the church.

St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral from the exterior, front of the church.
A high wall was built around the church to protect those inside from
riots that seem to have taken place regularly in the mid 19th Century.
Irish vs Italian.

When we got back to Mott St. the street had been cleared, and
a slow moving parade was walking, led by the police and a band.

The marching band is a regular mainstay of Little Italy.
Often they’ll burst into your restaurant, while you’re eating,
and parade around the place playing their music.

Slowly the procession moves onward. The center is the
statue of St. Gennaro being carried down the street.

The statue has dollar bills pinned to its costume. An advance crew
comes up seeking donations. When you give them a dollar they
give you a prayer card with St. Gennaro’s likeness.

Once the Saint passed, the crowds opened up. Some were
following, some were heading in the direction of the booths.

The food was everywhere now. Years ago I would’ve
eaten this stuff, but I’m too old for it now.

Even the colorful refrigerator magnets were shaped like food.
12 for $5 – a bargain.

The crowds were beginning to get large and close.
It was Twilight on Mott Street.

Throngs of people all milling about on a very slow crawl
up or down Mott Street searching.

The plastic dairy queen cone sat on the lounge chair throne.
I noticed the Italian chair had plastic covering.
Not for human consumption.

I liked the image of five big guys all working the grill at the same time.
They had more room to move than the crowds around them.

Evening was fast approaching.

Once we reach the heart, Umberto’s on the left, Ferrara’s on the right
we decided to take a break and went down the short side-street.

There we saw a lot of kiddee rides.
A dangerous Ferris Wheel and tiny Carousel.

We stopped for something to drink in a quiet wine bar.

When we came out it was night, and the lights were on bright.
We headed back to Mott Street to take in the even-bigger crowds.

The restaurants on these blocks had set up seating pavilions.
These were often larger than the restaurants, themselves.
All were packed with waiting lines to get in.

One or two actually seemed attractive.

The crowds here were at their height.

It took almost an hour to walk this next block.
That’s when we decided to surrender.

We said goodbye to the “Feast” this year and headed to a
parallel street which was dark, empty and completely walkable.

2 Responses to “The Feast”

  1. on 27 Sep 2009 at 9:47 am 1.Bob Cowan said …

    Michael –

    I always enjoy the “slice of life” shots you post. Helps put in perspective that there is more to life than animation!

  2. on 27 Sep 2009 at 10:09 am 2.Michael said …

    In fact, animation should be a comment on life, but these days it’s turned into a comment on other animation.

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