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The Feast of San Gennaro, originally a one-day religious commemoration, began in September, 1926 when newly arrived immigrants from Naples congregated along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy section of New York City to continue the tradition they had followed in Italy to celebrate San Gennaro as the Patron Saint of Naples. His feast day is September 19 in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. The immigrant families on Mulberry Street who started it all were Nappi, Vetali, Montanini and Tisi. Each one of them had a coffee house (café) on Mulberry Street between Grand and Hester Streets. They strung lengths of colored light bulbs across the street from building fire escapes and brought their business out onto the sidewalk. They erected a small chapel in the street to house the image of their patron Saint. They invited all to partake of their wares asking only that the devoted pin a small offering to the ribbon streamers that are hung from the statues apron. This money was then distributed to the needy poor of the neighborhood. In that way they felt they could do charitable works and also pay homage to their patron Saint. The festival expanded and is now an 11-day street fair beginning on the second Thursday in September in the Little Italy area of Manhattan as an annual celebration of Italian culture and the Italian-American community.
Centered on Mulberry Street, which is closed to traffic for the occasion, the festival generally features parades, street vendors, sausages, games and zeppole. The Grand Procession is held starting at 2 p.m on the last Saturday in September immediately after a celebratory Mass at the Church of the Most Precious Blood. This is a Roman Catholic candlelit procession in which the statue of San Gennaro is carried from its permanent home in the Most Precious Blood Church through the streets of Little Italy.
Some residents of Little Italy dislike the noise, garbage, and crowds generated by the festival. Although it is portrayed as a neighborhood event, most of the organizers, vendors, or attendees do not live in the area. For more than a decade, moreover, federal prosecutors have raised concerns that organized crime is involved in running the festival. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said all the appropriate steps have been taken to free the festival from such control.
Another festival is held with the same attractions in New York City's other Little Italy, in the Fordham/Belmont community in the Bronx. The streets are closed to traffic and the festivities begin early in the morning and proceed late into the night. In 2002 Jimmy Kimmel and Doug DeLuca founded the Feast of San Gennaro Los Angeles, and is a major annual event held every September in Hollywood.
Similar festivals have also been sponsored in other U.S. cities.
The Feast of San Gennaro was featured in both The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Part III. In Part II, a younger Vito Corleone assassinates local Mafia Don Fanucci during one of the processions made during the festival. This assassination enables Vito Corleone to rise in power and influence in the Mafia. In Part III, Vito's grandson Vincent "Vinnie" Mancini-Corleone assassinates rival Joey Zasa during the festival in public, causing widespread panic throughout Little Italy. A furious Michael Corleone orders that nothing like that ever be done again.
It was also featured prominently in the 1973 movie Mean Streets.
It is mentioned in the song "Sad Nights" by Blue Rodeo.
- Feast of San Gennaro official site (sponsored by Figli di San Gennaro)
- Feast of San Gennaro Los Angeles
- The Feast of San Gennaro On Flickr Photowalk - Feast of San Gennaro, Sept 2009
- ↑ 
- ↑ "Come Back to San Gennaro: The Mob is Deeply Missed". New York Observer. April 24, 2007. http://www.observer.com/2007/come-back-san-gennaro-mob-deeply-missed.