The 18th Avenue Feast could be on the verge of becoming a famine!
Organizers of Bensonhurst’s annual Festa di Santa Rosalia say that paperwork problems might cause the last-minute cancellation of the summer-capping street fair this year — and the end of the festival as we know it!
The city rejected requests for street closure permits from the Santa Rosalia Society, the Italian-American social club which started the celebration some seven decades ago, saying the group left out vital tax documents. The society claims that a city clerk’s butterfingers are to blame for the lost documents and has resubmitted the application, but it is unclear whether the city will grant the license by the the last week of August, when the feast traditionally kicks off.
“We’re trying to get it up and running for this year, but we’re not sure if the city is going to make up its mind in time,” said Angelo Timeroni, the society’s accountant.
A similar permit dispute led to the festival being canceled in 2011. The event resumed in 2012 with a full spread of cannolis, sausages, and peppers. But one club member said that, between the neighborhood’s shrinking Italian population and the yearly papework headaches, many in the group are all but fed up with putting on the feast.
The member, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the group is weighing whether to have a private event company run the feast in the future, pointing out that Little Italy’s annual Feast of San Gennaro has survived for the past 16 years despite the near-total exodus of Italian-Americans from the neighborhood, thanks to the help of an outside contractor.
But Timoneri insists that Bensonhurst’s remaining Italian-American youth should carry on the tradition started by their fathers and grandfathers.
“We’re going to try to keep it status quo,” Timoneri said. “We need the support of the community.”