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Mulberry Street in Little Italy was overcrowded on Saturday as thousands flocked for the third day of the feast of San Gennaro – the patron saint of Naples.
Looking at the crowd that was exposed the most, the cheering approval among visitors and vendors was that “New York is back” as the iconic festival – which spans 11 blocks of the Little Italy neighborhood and is quickly reaching its 100.16 after it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
John Fratta, Vice President of Figli di San Gennaro, said he feels fantastic that San Gennaro is back and that the tradition continues. His great-grandfather was the first president of the festival, which started in 1926.
“Last year was a disappointment for all of us,” said Fratta, referring to the cancellation of last year’s festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He urged people to be “smart” and wear a mask when they visit the festival this year.
“A lot of people came out the first night,” said Fratta. “It was much more crowded than ever. I think people just want to get out. “
For Kathy and Randall Slane of Park Slope, Brooklyn, it was the second time that they attended the festival. The couple had moved from California in late 2019 and looked forward to all that New York City has to offer, but then COVID-19 halted their plans to explore the city last year.
“Oh man, it’s great to be out here and have everyone together. For me this is New York, ”said Randall.
“Especially after COVID. It’s nice to see everyone outside, ”added Kathy. “Especially for us it is so nice that the city is back to normal.”
They weren’t too concerned about the Delta variant because they are both vaccinated and Kathy said she was an avid hand washer.
“I think if you are careful and careful you will be safe,” said Kathy. “New York has such a high vaccination rate and a low positivity rate right now, I think we both feel pretty safe.”
Luke McDonough, who attended the festival with friends Lexy Leeds and Robbie Rice, claimed to have his Italian roots because his mother is Italian.
All are ex-Fordham students, and they used to go to the San Gennaro Festival in the Bronx. But now they live on Mulberry Street, and McDonough joked that ten days might be a little long because when he has to go to work, “there are all these parties.”
“It’s a great festival that celebrates my heritage and I’m very happy to be here,” said McDonough. “I love it. I love the cigar smoke, all guys. It’s fun.”
“It’s nice to see New York City back on the streets,” added Lexy Leeds.
Ilana Buczyner immigrated from Italy when she was six. She stated that she loves Italians. Her parents are Holocaust survivors and the Italian people saved her life.
She was still concerned about COVID-19, mostly because of the crowds on Mulberry Street, but said, “I like the variety of people in New York that come out. Stop the Corona. “
Vinny Scuzzese owns a basket-throwing booth that he brought all the way from the Jersey Shore to NYC. He admitted that he was depressed last year because he didn’t know if he would come back, but he felt fine about this year’s turnout.
“I thought it was going to go a little wrong, softly,” Vinny said. “But Thursday, Friday and today is very good. So far people are coming out. That’s why I’m happy. “
The festival lasts until September 26th.