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Tony Danza to Serve as Grand Marshal for Feast of San Gennaro Procession, 9/12; Lineup Announced!

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The 89th Annual Feast of San Gennaro, New York City's longest-running, biggest and most revered religious outdoor festival, will take place Thursday, September 10 through Sunday, September 20, 2015, on the streets of historic Little Italy, the lower Manhattan neighborhood which served as the first home in America for hundreds of thousands of Italian immigrants seeking a better life in the early 20th century.

Noted actor/singer Tony Danza, star of this season's Broadway musical "Honeymoon in Las Vegas," will be Grand Marshal of the Feast's Grand Procession on Saturday, September 12, at 2 PM. The Grand Procession, featuring a number of decorated Parade Floats, marching bands, celebrities, local community leaders, elected officials and honored guests, will step off from the intersection of Mulberry and Canal Streets and head north on Mulberry to Prince Street and return south on Mott, ending at Grand Street.

The Feast will begin on September 10 with the annual Blessing of the Stands Procession at 6 PM when clergy members lead a Procession from the rear of the Shrine Church of Most Precious Blood on Mulberry Street, through the Feast streets, blessing vendors and restaurant, cafeé and boutique owners.

On Saturday, September 19 (the official Feast Day celebrating the martyrdom of San Gennaro, the Patron Saint of Naples, there will be a Concelebratory Mass in the Shrine Church of Most Precious Blood at 2 PM, followed immediately around 3 PM by the Religious Procession with the Statue of San Gennaro through the streets of the Feast. The singers at the Mass will include soprano Cristina Fontanelli, who will perform the Ave Maria from the altar, soprano Cheryl Warfield and tenor Anthony Del Campo. The annual Feast of San Gennaro Blood Drive will take place on the final day of the Feast, Sunday, Sept. 20, 11:30 AM to 6:30 PM, in the Youth Center of the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral on Mulberry Street. All donors will be given free cannoli, courtesy of Caffe Palermo, after they have given blood.

There are a number of special events planned for this year's Feast. On Friday, September 11, from 4:00 to 5:30 PM, there will be a "9/11 Musical Remembrance Ceremony" on the Festival Performance Stage at the corner of Grand and Mott Streets featuring tenor Patric Hale and soprano Theresa Sareo. On Sunday, September 13, from 1 to 4 PM, there will be a "Frank Sinatra Sound Alike Singing Competition" hosted by TV personality Bill Boggs. A panel of judges will select two Prize winners who will receive $250 and $100 cash prizes. The competition will be immediately followed by an "Ole Blue Eyes 100th Birthday Celebration" on the stage .featuring a giant birthday cake, shaped in the image of Sinatra leaning on a grand piano, designed and constructed by Ferrara Cafe? bakers in conjunction with Rhapsody Cakes of Long Island. The cake will be sliced and distributed free to people in the .audience.

Ferrara co-owners, Ernest Lepore and Anthony Sessa, who set the world record for creating the world's biggest cannolo at last year's Feast - a humongous pastry 12 feet long and weighing over 350 pounds - are determined to create the world's largest Gelato Cone at this year's Feast which, if all goes as planned,, will stand more than 10 feet tall and tip the scales at over 3,000 pounds They are planning to unveil "LA BELLISSIMA," as they are calling it, on Saturday, September 19, at 4 PM near the Festival Performance Stage.

This year's Festa of All Festas will feature musical performances by Vito Picone & The Elegants, Cristina Fontanelli, Jenna Esposito, Jimmy Alleva, Tre Bella, Francesca Cavaliere, Manhattan Skyline, Johnny Mandolin, Just Friends, Nostalgia, Angelo Ruggiero, Rocco Mesito, City Rhythm Orchestra, Gene Roberts and His Band and The Neighborhood.

The Feast's "15th Annual Enrico Caruso Opera Night" will be held on Wednesday, September 16 (7 to 10 PM) featuring four singers, including Shana Farr and Ernest Revell, supported by David Maiullo on keyboard.

On Thursday, September 17, from 3 to 5 PM, there will be a series of food demos on the Performance Stage presented by Little Italy's "Grand Street Merchants." These will include tastings and mini-lectures about Italian cheeses, olive oils and wines, etc.

As is the custom of the Feast, there will be two live radio broadcasts from the Stage on the two Saturday nights from 7 to 10 PM: On Saturday, September 12, Joe Causi will host a program on WCBS 101.1FM and the following Saturday, September 19, legendary radio personality Bruce Morrow, known to his legion of fans as "Cousin Brucie," will host his Sirius XM broadcast. Both programs will feature surprise guests from the world of pop music

Little Italy's famous Red Mike Festival Band, which has performed at every Feast since 1927, will be back performing in the streets and in local restaurants and cafes.

Presented annually since 1996 by Figli di San Gennaro, Inc. (Children of San Gennaro), a non-profit community organization dedicated to keeping alive the spirit and culture of the early immigrants, the Feast is expected to once again attract approximately two-million people from around the globe to celebrate the annual celebration of the Patron Saint of Naples - San Gennaro.

The central focus of the celebration takes place every September 19th, the official Saint Day when a Concelebrated Mass is held in the Shrine Church of Most Precious Blood followed by a religious procession in which the Statue of San Gennaro is carried from its permanent home in the church through the streets of Little Italy.

The Feast Day celebrates 'The Blood Miracle of San Gennaro" - the liquefaction of the blood of San Gennaro - an extraordinary, well documented miracle of the Catholic Church, occurring annually on the Feast Day for the past 600 years. Scientists have been unable to explain why the Saint's blood, which ordinarily remains stored in solid form inside a sealed vial in the Naples Cathedral, miraculously liquefies on such frequent occasions.

"The Feast of San Gennaro holds a special place in the hearts of Italian people everywhere," says Joseph Mattone, President of Figli di San Gennaro, Inc. "It is a festive period of faith and redemption, a time for remembrance and reconciliation, and a time for celebration. The Feast brings the world to Little Italy and Little Italy to the world."

The Feast of San Gennaro takes place along Mulberry, Hester and Grand Streets, 11:30 AM to 11:00 PM Sundays - Thursdays, and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays...The streets are decorated with festive banners and arches in green, white and red. Little Italy's famous Italian restaurants, many of them landmarks, roll out the red carpet for Feast visitors, providing outdoor dining areas, and delicious Italian specialty foods and pastries. Some restaurants even have strolling musicians to entertain their customers.

The area's Italian restaurants and cafes obtain special city and state permits to serve Italian food delicacies, beer and wine at tables set up outside their establishments. More than 200 vendors operate stalls throughout the Feast selling Italian favorites as sausage and pepper sandwiches, zeppoles, calzones, gelato, pizza and pasta. There are also carnival games and rides.

The Feast of San Gennaro was first held in New York City on Sept. 19, 1926 when newly arrived immigrants from Naples, Italy, settled in apartment houses along Mulberry Street in an area that soon became known as 'Little Italy.' These new Americans brought with them a rich culture and deep religious heritage, including the centuries-old tradition to celebrate the day in 305 A.D. when San Gennaro was martyred for the faith. In the ensuing years, the Feast grew from a one-day celebration to an 11-day gala event.

Figli di San Gennaro, Inc., the community-based, not-for-profit charitable organization, has donated more than $2.000,000 from the Feasts to causes supporting children and education.

The Board of Figli di San Gennaro includes Joseph Mattone, Sr., President; Vivian Catenaccio, Vice President; Robert Marshall, Secretary; The Hon. Anthony Cannataro, John Fratta, The Hon. Joseph Golia, Ernest Magliato, Vita Sabella, Patricia Valentino and Michael Verra.

This year's sponsors of the 89th Annual Feast of San Gennaro are: AMTRAK, Sparkling Ice, Verizon/FIOS, Peroni Nastro Azzuro Italy, Vacation Reservation Center, WCBS-FM, 101.1, Fresh 102.7 FM, 92.3 AMP Radio, Sirius XM Radio, City Guide, Italian Tribune and Lt. Joseph Petrosino Lodge of the Order of Sons of Italy (OSIA) in NYC's Little Italy.

For more information, call Mort and Ray Productions at 212/768-9320 or visit www.sangennaro.org.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride


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