It’s on! 18th Ave. fest to go off without a hitch

Don’t believe the blogs! The 18th Avenue festival is on!
Photo by Bess Adler

Bensonhurst’s beloved 18th Avenue Festival is on — and, yes, it will be 10 days long.

Silencing rumors that the Festa di Santa Rosalia, the decades-old festival in honor of the patron saint of Palermo, would be scaled back to one day or eliminated altogether, the city told us that the traditional street fair will indeed begin on schedule and last its normal run.

“The city plans to issue a permit for the [festival] from Aug. 25 to Sept. 4,” said Evelyn Erskine, a spokeswoman for the mayor. She added that the festival’s organizers, the Society Santa Rosalia Club, were given the go-ahead weeks ago.

Festival organizers could not be reached for comment.

Eyebrows were raised this week after two blogs posted reports that the music and fried-food-fueled street festival would be slashed to one day to cut costs. The report cited a city website that posted a calendar listing showing the feast would start and end on Aug. 25, and the fact that festivals in other neighborhoods had been cut altogether.

So when business owners on 18th Avenue heard it wasn’t true, they rejoiced.

“It’s good for the neighborhood,” said Joe Maffei, the owner of Gino’s Focacceria, which sells pizza and fried dough at the festival. “It brings business to the area.”

And residents happy to hear it was still on said they love the festival because it brings people together year after year..

“It’s a tradition that I remember going to since I was a kid,” said longtime resident Gina Gallo.

Still, others said today’s street fair is a far cry from years past, when the festival served as a more low-key religious celebration for the neighborhood’s dwindling base of Italian-Americans.

“I really like it but there’s a lot of noise,” said Suzanne Colareta, who lives on 72nd Street, off of 18th Avenue, adding that the music from the fair can be heard all the way down her block.

“Maybe they should shorten it,” Colareta said.

Marnee Elias-Pavia, Community Board 11’s district manager, chalked the mix-up to an online typo.

She said the board approved the 10-day festival last December.

“We wouldn’t make any recommendations to shorten it,” Elias-Pavia said.