It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or at least the summer – in Bensonhurst.
The Festa di Santa Rosalia, commonly called the 18th Avenue Feast, began without a hitch despite a last-minute date change as it celebrated its first few days on the commercial strip.
The 11-day festival kicked off on Thursday, August 21, and will continue through Sunday, August 31, bringing Bensonhurst together and drawing crowds in the thousands, many of whom have been coming to the Festa di Santa Rosalia for years.
“It was pretty crowded,” said local resident Danielle Piro who treated her sweet tooth on Sunday night to an Italian ice from Villabate Alba Pasticceria. “It was pretty busy for a Sunday, and I think businesses are definitely benefitting from it.
“A lot of families were there,” Piro went on, recalling the feast’s cancellation in August, 2011. “I remember that one year that they didn’t do it and how upset everyone in the neighborhood was. It’s a tradition for a lot of people to go every year.”
Only growing stronger in the years since its cancellation, the Festa di Santa Rosalia drew crowds from all over Brooklyn to enjoy the fare dished out by dozens of street vendors, authentic Italian cuisine and the undeniable street-fair classics like steamy sausage and peppers, super sweet zeppoles and delectable deep-fried Oreos.
Spanning 18th Avenue from 68th Street to Bay Ridge Parkway, the summertime staple starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 11 p.m., making way for fun and friendly foot traffic – and, of course, carnival rides for kids. With something for everyone, the 18th Avenue Feast continues to bridge the generational gap.
“I was afraid that, over the years, it lost its popularity,” noted Piro, “but that certainly wasn’t the case this weekend.”