No more Drown the Clown? No more zeppoles, chased down by some gelato? Or walks through Little Italy in a crushing sea of humanity? The Daily News reports that Community Board 2's street events committee is recommending that the board reject permits for San Gennaro.
An anonymous board member said, "[The feast] used to be a reflection of the community. They've become homogenized, with the same vendors selling the same stuff, the same food, the same underwear." That's true - last summer, the Center for Urban Future released a report saying that street fairs were too generic. Another board member, Sean Sweeney, said, "No one likes San Gennaro who lives here" and added, "Residents complained it was better organized when the Mafia ran it."
The San Gennaro Festival organizers had no idea about CB 2's unhappiness, and its director Annamaria Dellacampo said, "This is not a street fair. San Gennaro is a festival of the patron saint of Naples. It's a religious event." Sure, it's a religious event where the statue of San Gennaro is taken from the Most Precious Blood Church, but it's also a religious event with fried food and games that we can never win! And fun fact: Back in 2004, the San Gennaro board added two former prosecutors, to quell concerns about organized crime.
Do you look forward to San Gennaro - or do you dread it?
Update: The Medici Foundation sent us a press release; we've included after the jump and, yes, the sentence "This is not a community issue, it is a discrimination issue" does appear.
NEW YORK, NY (March 26, 2007) – Italian-Americans are being attacked for a long-standing religious cultural event. According to The Medici Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that preserves and promotes Italian and Italian-American culture, heritage and business, the proposed ban on San Gennaro discriminates against Italian-Americans.
"This is not a community issue, it is a discrimination issue” said William Medici, President of The Medici Foundation and Producer of NBC’s critically acclaimed documentary, ‘Little Italy: Past, Present & Future.’
“This is a direct attack against Italian-Americans who, through their blood, sweat and tears, helped make this a wonderful city to live and work while sharing their legacy and wonderful culture with all people of all backgrounds,” added Medici.
“Ever since the Italians came to New York, we’ve been discriminated against, including my great-grandfather for exercising his legal right to practice his religion that America grants all of its citizens said John Fratta, fourth generation Little Italy resident and District Manager of Community Board 11.
“My great-grandfather was one of the founders of San Gennaro in New York and he wanted to continue what he and so many had done in Italy in honoring their patron saint and now, 80 years later, we have the same legal right to continue to do the same” added Fratta.
The Medici Foundation is spearheading an initiative to make New York City's Little Italy a historic landmark district. "I couldn't believe that out of all of the historic landmark districts in Manhattan and the rest of New York, Little Italy has not been preserved. Considering that Little Italy is one of the most beloved and most visited places in New York, by people from all over the U.S. and worldwide, it is unfathomable to think that the powers that be have not preserved the neighborhood for not only its cultural, but its economic significance" added Giorgio Repeti, an Italian-Australian native and board member of The Medici Foundation.
“The Medici Foundation is determined and focused to ensure that critical historical and cultural assets are preserved for all future Italian-Americans and people of all backgrounds so they too can experience, enjoy and learn about the history of these wonderful citizens" added Repeti.
“This is a direct attack against Italian-Americans who, through their blood, sweat and tears, helped make this a wonderful city to live and work while sharing their legacy and wonderful culture with all people of all backgrounds."