Starting Thursday, The Feast of San Gennaro–the annual event that has taken place in Little Italy every September over the past 88 years–will begin again for two weeks. The Grand Procession will take place on Saturday, September 13th with Mayor Bill de Blasio as Grand Marshal. The three main streets for the Festival are Mulberry, Hester and Grand and the activities will run from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm (midnight on Fridays and Saturdays).
Right on the corner of Grand and Mulberry Streets is the Italian American Museum. This corner of Little Italy is as significant to Italian-American Heritage as the Feast itself. It was on this corner in 1885 that the “Banca Stabile” was founded by Francesco Rosario Stabile. Banca Stabile was much more than a bank to the immigrants.
Acting more like a community center, the bank provided telegraph service, travel arrangements, notary public and was used as a post office. It was their link to relatives in Italy. The museum consists of a row of three townhouses (185-189 Grand) and was sold by the Stabile family in 2008 to the museum. Called Stabile Row, the three story buildings are not landmarked. As with many small museums, keeping their doors open has been a challenge and over this past few years, they entertained the possibility of selling part of their building.
Following community protest, the building is now off the market and today, the Italian American Museum has both permanent and revolving exhibits. Here they hope to show the struggles of Italian Americans as they embarked upon their new lives in America, and also acknowledge their achievements and contributions to this country. For those who wish to learn more, the Museum offers workshops and will be hosting a Meet and Greet on September 23rd as a prelude to their Italian Language and Culture Workshop that begins September 29th.
This year, the festivities of the Feast of St. Gennaro start off with the annual cannoli eating contest on Thursday, September 11th and the blessing of the restaurants, shops and vendors later that day. The official Feast is always on September 19th with a 6pm celebratory mass in honor of San Gennaro followed by a candlelit procession. The celebration goes through September 21st. Some say it is a celebration to honor the patron saint of Naples, while others say its a celebration of food. Either way, prepare yourself for lots of festivities. Expect more than 300 street vendors selling food and souvenirs, games, rides and lots of entertainment. All are invited – and come hungry!
Contact the author @AFineLyne.