BENSONHURST — The tradition continues.
On Thursday, August 22, Bensonhurst’s 43rd annual Feast of Santa Rosalia, returned, bringing back the fanfare that has made the festival a mainstay in the neighborhood.
The feast, which runs along along 18th Avenue, also known as Cristoforo Colombo Boulevard, from 67th Street to Bay Ridge Parkway, brings back fan favorites such as rides, music, games, drinks and of course, a vast array of food, with Lucy’s Sausage stand being a favorite.
The event is going well, according to festival organizers and attendees.
“The feast has gone through many changes throughout the years and is a much anticipated event for our multicultural community,” organizer Anna Marie Mistretta Paunetto said.
“I love the feast and how there are people of all ethnic backgrounds coming together and enjoying it,” said Marie Johnson. “I love how multicultural it is now. I live two blocks away and we are so excited that this year we were not on vacation for it. The weather has been fantastic and it has been so crowded every day.”
“I love to go to the feast and support my heritage,” said Margaret Ann, another local attendee. “Yes, it has changed but so have I. I am not 18 anymore. I love the performers, Lucy’s Sausage, etc. My family and I support it every year.”
It’s not unusual for former neighborhood residents to return to Bensonhurst for the festival.
“I’m Brooklyn born and raised and moved to Jersey many years ago, and I still come in for the St. Rosalia Feast every year,” said one attendee. “I will continue to do so, until either I die out of the Feast does because not only is this a neighborhood tradition, it’s a way to show that you support the old school ways, and the old school neighbors that still live there.”
Attendance appeared higher than usual, according to Judi Weissman-Barreca.
“I was pleasantly surprised on Saturday when we were there, it was so crowded,” she said. “It’s been a few years since I’ve seen it like that.”
A highlight of the event, according to Paunetto, is the Sept. 1 procession from from the chapel of Santa Rosalia at 18th Avenue and 72nd Street at 3 p.m., followed by mass at St. Dominic’s Church at Bay Ridge Parkway and 20th Avenue at 4 p.m.
“Our feast is also important for our elderly who attend the mass at St Dominic,” she said. “These are the elderly that can no longer go to their homeland, so it’s important to keep the traditions not only for them but for our children, the future generations that will keep the Italian culture alive.”
This year, Councilmember Justin Brannan was named grand marshal of the feast.
“This is very, very cool,” Brannan told this paper. “I grew up going to the Santa Rosalia 18th Avenue Feast, so to now have the honor of representing this neighborhood but also being recognized by this organization is humbling. Part of my family comes from Italy so it’s nice to remember this tradition.”
For more information about the feast, go to https://bit.ly/2ZuYp82.