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September Street Fairs Buoy New York's Spirits

Ellen Levitt

Posted on September 24, 2018 19:05

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New York City is well known for its many street fairs throughout autumn, spring and summer. Two of the most famous annual fairs of September are the San Gennaro Festival in Manhattan's Little Italy, and the Atlantic Antic in Brooklyn. Both attract thousands of people, New Yorkers and tourists who enjoy the activities and sights.

New York City is known throughout the United States and even the world for big communal events such as large-scale parades, site-specific activities and exhibitions in public parks and other spaces, and of course its street fairs. Two of its most famous annual street fairs are held in September: the San Gennaro Festival in Manhattan's Little Italy and the Atlantic Antic, which covers a lengthy section of downtown Brooklyn. Both are more than just opportunities to purchase junk food and trinkets from vendors: each has a deep connection to the surrounding neighborhoods.

The Feast of San Gennaro in New York is a celebration particularly of Italian-American pride. Begun in 1926 on Mulberry Street to celebrate Saint Januarius, it has evolved into an eleven-day festival centering on his feast day, September 19th. The crowded fair, which runs from September 13 through 23 this year, takes place now mostly on Mulberry Street as well as a few neighboring streets that intersect. Mulberry is a narrow thoroughfare so the throngs of people can be heavy. Local restaurants and civic groups sell food and drinks, accessories and clothes, and other souvenirs. Musicians play to the crowds, such as crooning singers and accordion players. There are some amusement park type rides with flashing lights.

But there are also vivid reminders of the cultural and religious connections of this pageantry. Religious services are held at the Church of the Most Precious Blood. At certain times there are processions. When I visited this year for the first of two days, I watched a parade of about a dozen floats as well as a few marching bands with students. There are special musical events as well; among the performers were the doo wop group Vito and the Elegants, Opera Night, and singer Jenna Esposito. There was a cannoli-eating contest on September 14th and meatball-eating contest on September 22.

The Atlantic Antic is a secular celebration of the downtown neighborhoods of Brooklyn, showcasing the main artery of Atlantic Avenue. This year, the 44th installment, was held on Sunday, September 23rd. Visitors could buy a wide variety of food and drinks, purchase a large assortment of items such as clothing, jewelry, crafts and more. There are various musical performances: I saw a youth marching and spirit band, a jazz group playing outside Hank's Saloon, and other groups. Civic organizations, city and state agencies had booths; among these were CAMBA, NYS Division of Human Rights, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), local sports teams and others. Politicians and their staffs roam the crowds. You can taste, hear and buy items of various ethnicities including Caribbean, African American, Arabic, Asian, and more.

Sunday, September 23rd had overcast skies but the rain held off for the most part, so that both the San Gennaro and Atlantic Antic fairs were well attended and full of energy. I enjoyed attending both, and have done so for many years. They are loud, messy and cluttered but full of New York spirit.

 

 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on September 24, 2018 19:05

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Source: Inc.com

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