Sunday, September 15, 2013

The San Gennaro Festival: Where Even Superman Is Italian

This weekend we went to the Feast of San Gennaro, an 11-day festival that draws thousands of people to the narrow streets of Little Italy.

Photo courtesy of City Guide.

I have to admit, I'd never heard of the Feast of San Gennaro before  perhaps because it wasn't featured in an episode of Seinfeld. (I'm pretty clueless.) But according to the City Guide website, it's the "longest-running, biggest and most revered religious outdoor festival."

I didn't see anything religious while we were there — mostly just chockablock humanity squeezing past vendors hawking cannolis, frozen drinks and Italian sausage. But apparently a group of Italian priests walk through the grounds on the first day of the festival and bless all the restaurants and booths. (Even the one selling deep-fried Oreos??) This is probably the closest that Christian folk can get to kosher certification.

I enjoyed the food, but what most amused me were the attempts to make the festival seem like a typical suburban fair (ignoring the fact that it's crammed into the alleyways of one of New York's denser neighborhoods).


This train (below) was particularly delightful.


Elliot won an inflatable hand at a high-striker game — something we all soon regretted.


As we made our way through the crowds on Mulberry Street, I realized in horror that the thing was whapping people in the face. Talking to the hand has never been so violent!

I made Elliot stop, of course. But in fairness, his behavior only seemed slightly worse than the guy who pushed a side-by-side double stroller through the multitudes. (These things should probably be banned from New York.)

The highlight of the entire festival — for our 5-year-old, at least — was the Superman bouncy house.


Look closely: Does it seem like they made Superman extra Italian?


He kind of resembles Marlon Brando. (But maybe that's fitting, since he did play Superman's father.)

If we all get to be a little bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day, I guess we can all be a little Italian on the Feast of San Gennaro — even Kryptonians.