Shocker! Organizers cancel 18th Avenue Feast

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Organizers have pulled the plug on this year’s 18th Avenue Feast, quashing a decades-old tradition with a surprise Facebook post on Thursday that blamed the city for the festival’s demise.

“I am sad to inform you that there will be no Feast this year,” organizer Joe DeMarco wrote on a Facebook page dedicated to the annual street fair, which draws thousands of Brooklynites and hundreds of vendors to an eight-block stretch of 18th Avenue between 67th and 75th streets.

DeMarco claimed that the city dragged its feet in issuing the permits for the Feast — not giving organizers enough time to set everything up for its scheduled Aug. 25 kickoff.

“There is no time to get the 250 vendors [and] entertainers to make the feast happen and [we] are just fed up and tired,” DeMarco wrote. “Sadly, another Bensonhurst tradition dies along with the 13th Avenue Feast and the Harway Avenue Feast.”

But city officials are refuting DeMarco’s allegations, claiming that a conditional permit — which would have allowed organizers to go ahead with their plans — was sent to the organizers two weeks ago.

“We sent that letter on Aug. 5,” city spokeswoman Evelyn Erskine explained. “[The letter] allowed them to hold their festival.”

The conditional permit, however, was contingent on organizers giving the city several “documents” that included the festival’s non-profit status and liability insurance. It was unclear if those documents were produced before the Feast’s cancellation.

As of Friday evening, organizers hadn’t told the city that they weren’t holding the Feast, Erskine said.

Nor has anyone contacted the 62nd Precinct, which assigns more than 20 cops to the festival each day.

“There’s a campaign online to blame the city, but that’s not true,” an NYPD source told this paper. “The permit for the feast was absolutely filed — they’re just not doing it. But since they never told us that they’re cancelling it, we still have to plan as if its going to occur.”

The source said many wondered if the Feast was going to happen since organizers hadn’t put up the lights, banners and advertisements that are usually in place a week before the festival begins.

Attempts to contact DeMarco were unsuccessful by Friday evening.

The cancellation, first reported by the blog Bensonhurst Bean was announced just two days after the city confirmed that the festival would go on as planned for a full ten days. A typo on a city website had many believing that the Festival would go on, but only for one day.

Residents responded angrily to news that the festival had been shut down.

“All of a sudden it’s canceled?” asked a stunned Joe Maffei, the owner of Gino’s Focacceria, which relies on the yearly boost in business the festival brings. “This is tradition we’re talking about!”

—with Thomas Tracy

Updated 5:25 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Or from Yellow Hook says:

No sausage and peppers on the street?

No fried dough?

No tube socks for sale?

Just have to walk over to another neighborood to have Coney Island in the middle of the street.
Aug. 20, 2011, 12:08 pm
Theresa from Bensonhurst says:
Another Italian tradition leaves the neighborhood! Everyone who makes fun should have been supporting the activities & helped participate in maintaining the real reason they were there and not just sit back and watch it all fall apart during these past few years!!
Aug. 21, 2011, 9:01 am
jj from Brooklyn says:
so … the bloggers were correct (about the fair being cancelled) and The Brooklyn Paper — which, cribbing from, headlined, "Don't believe the blogs!" Maybe the paper could admit its mistake, and offer congrats to the "blog" on its scoop!
Aug. 21, 2011, 10:13 am
Jay from Bay Ridge says:
most of the summer street fair vendors are too busy in Manhattan, where they can be more profitable.
Aug. 21, 2011, 2:03 pm
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
The bloggers weren't "correct" about the fair being canceled, because they didn't originally report it was canceled — they reported it would be one day.
Aug. 21, 2011, 4:59 pm
nancy from coney says:
there are very few italian american events going on in bkly anymore all you gus lost your pride in your culture.this wouldnt happen in other nationalities, a tradition thats been around forever is gone because you people dont open your mouths shame on all of you. and this goes 2 the city 2 you dumb dumbs i hope your all happy for taking away a tradition thats why there are not many italians left in bklyn i guess im one of the few if i know about it id make a stink shame on all of you
Aug. 21, 2011, 8:23 pm
Lina from Brooklyn says:
I can't believe it's cancelled. Though I'm not Italian, but I go every year to join the fun!
Aug. 21, 2011, 9:30 pm
teegee from sunset park says:
This was bloomberg's fault. Even if the city gave a "maybe" permit two weeks ago - you can't organize a festival like this in two weeks. anyone who thinks you can has never even organized a birthday

And it isn't just the permit, the city has added all sorts of little nonsense rules all designed as "taxes" on street has made it too expensive for us outer boros to hold festivals - soon we will all have to go to the Kingdom of Bloomberg to enjoy a burnt, greasy sausage. This is just bloomberg the businessman - eliminating all competition.

bloomberg counts the days that he has left to get things done as mayor. i count the days that we have left to say goodbye to him.
Aug. 22, 2011, 7:05 am
Michelle from Brooklyn says:
The city gave a temporary permit and apparently the organization and local officials did not follow through. The local organization was blaming the city for giving them late notice, but local officials are pointing the finger back at the organization.

I think it was an all around FAIL. We need a new organization and city officials who are willing to take responsibility and follow through.
Aug. 22, 2011, 10:24 am
Giovanni from Bensonhurst says:
Not sure how true this is, but I heard straight from someone involved in the Feast planning that one of the BIG reasons it isn't happening was that the changing demographic has lead to a dramatic decrease in contributions from local businesses.
Does anyone know if this is legit? I actually heard this from a few different folks here. Could be just hearsay.
I am still shocked. But hey, really, have you seen 18th Avenue the last few years? It's not the Italian enclave it used to be anymore.
As for "Nancy", who posted earlier-the reason the "Italian traditions" have died here are directly tied to the fact that all us younger Italians can't afford to buy homes in the very neighborhood we live in anymore! We grew up, got married, and if we wanted to buy a home, we have to leave for New Jersey, Staten Island, etc.
I'm currently looking at homes in Jersey because I can't afford to drop close to a MILLION DOLLARS for a semi-detached two family home! It's absurd.
So don't get angry at the Italians leaving the area. There's nothing they can do about it unless they want to spend the rest of their lives renting an apartment here in Bensonhurst at Manhattan prices!
Aug. 23, 2011, 8:30 am
nancy from coney says:
all im saying is that theres an escape from bklyn cause there is no one living here anymore that are italian they go where ever 4 whatever reason and forget about their bklyn roots. you dont have 2 live here to not forget where you come from and keep your traditions alive
stay intouch with your roots get invoved everyone leaves and gives up on their traditios and where they come from they dont get involved with bklyn anymore .the italians are moving out and the asians and indian population is taking over there look at the gilio in williamsburg alot of italians moved out but they come back every year get involved and keep that feast going traditions die because people let it there is no excuse but the politicians are 2 blame 2
Aug. 23, 2011, 8:49 pm
george from Sunset Park says:
I heard that they needed 450 businesses to sponsor this. They could not drum up enough clients in 2 weeks, since a permit was issued, so the organizers say.

There is a few pizzerias left on 18th Ave, that have been there since the 1960's. Other than that, there are no Italian Americans left. They all sold out to the Asians for big bucks, so they could buy a micro house in Staten Island. Who can afford to travel back, just to buy some sausages & peppers.
Aug. 24, 2011, 5:55 am
Italian from Dyker Heights says:
If the feast was cancelled for good reasons, that is fine, but rumors had it was cancelled because the chinese didn't want it, What happened to us Italians
Aug. 24, 2011, 7:44 am
Joey Bots from Bots says:
Giovanni from Bensonhurst raises some good points, but think about the Norwegian Parade in Bay Ridge - the vast majority of the Norwgians have left the neighborhood, yet in May they all come back for the parade. Why not the Italians?
Aug. 24, 2011, 11:15 am
Bklyn87 from Bklyn says:
Reality check people.. The sad unfortunate fact is that all of the Italians left Brooklyn to go live in Staten Island, New Jersey, & Long Island. Giovanni is right by saying that the homes are way over priced in Brooklyn, but that's not the ONLY reason why people left. A lot of people thought that the grass was greener on the other side of the bridge. Brooklyn (not just Bensonhurst) turned into a sewer! There are no Italian people or businesses left. It's not even possible to have the 18th avenue feast anymore unless you don't mind seeing nothing but Chinese & Russian vendors. And to top it all off, most of the people that are complaining are the sell outs who left Bklyn to begin with. You did it to yourselves.
Aug. 24, 2011, 11:56 am
Mike from Bay Ridge says:
Joey Bots has it right; I live in Bay Ridge and only see the Norwegians in full (though anemic) force once a year. However, I do see the Italians in full force in local churches for Christmas, Palm Sunday and Easter because many who moved away come back to see family. Maybe the organizers should consider moving the feast to the week between Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday.

But in the end, there's no changing the demographics: the Italians are growing up and migrating to greener pastures, marrying and moving away, retiring and relocating, dying, even divorcing and selling up. Their houses are being sold to non-Italians who aren't going to be supportive of a noisy, two-week traffic jam based on a different culture.

I remember hearing on the radio years ago that when gentrification first arrived in Harlem, local activists actually wanted government regulation to limit the number of non-Blacks moving in for fear of loosing their culture. It went nowhere; if it did, the same policy might have stood a prayer in Bensonhurst--but that's probably why it went nowhere.
Aug. 25, 2011, 12:56 pm
Home owner from Bensonhurst says:
I'm going to speak up as a home owner who resides off of 18th Avenue. The festival has always been the biggest headache for us. I don't mind the festivities, vendors, and even the music. My biggest compliant is the people they draw to the neighborhood. They usually block my driveway, throw garbage on the streets, rude and disrespect other people's property. Instead of enjoying the music and excitment outside every year I have to sit in front of my house to police the potential ruckus activities every night. In the morning the streets are dirty and I get no empathy from the Department of Sanitation who issues me a ticket for garbage from last night. It's very fustrating. I think it's a sad thing to loose tradition but what are the benefits when it negatively affects those who have to live here.
Aug. 25, 2011, 6:26 pm
Jay from Bay Ridge says:
There's a Third Avenue Festival in October despite its changing demographic over the years. Our Bay Ridge tradition welcome people of all cultures.
Aug. 25, 2011, 8:39 pm
Nicole from Bensonhurst says:
What ever the reason is for the feast not being on, I believe the big reason is the way the feast has changed year after year. The biggest problem, its not safe! I had friends stabbed and shot at this feast. The majority of people that come to this feast are young adults walking back and forth looking to pick up younger girls. The only people playing the games are the adults or people with children. All this feast does is bring trouble from all different neighborhoods to one festival where kids cant even enjoy themselves because of all the drama that goes on.
Nov. 30, 2011, 1:03 pm
Philip from dyker hts says:
Gone-and soon to be forgotten. As an AMERICAN of Italian acestry, it has absolutely no importace in my life.Thats ok for some peasant village in Sicilly, not in Brooklyn.Noisy, obnoxious and rude people who probably have a 8th grade education at best. I won`t miss it, I applaud its departure.May it never come back.
Dec. 7, 2011, 1:47 am
Nicholas Infante from Park Slope says:
whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa nancy from coney, who the hell do you are? you got a problem with Italians you coney island dumpster whore.
Feb. 8, 2013, 9:52 pm
kim from n.j says:
I live in n.j but im from canarise brooklyn u make me sick u need too go where back where ur from I love brooklyn yes we may be obnoxious but that's who we r
Sept. 6, 2013, 1:55 am
kim from n.j says:
not for nothing my best times was living in brooklyn the Italians what made n.y and yes i never made 9TH grade but i did learn street smarts brooklyn canarise rule p.s i hope you never come back I proud where i'm from if my husband wasn't so much of a redneck i would be back in a heartbeat beat
Sept. 6, 2013, 2:17 am
kim from n.j says:
i'm from canarise brooklyn u guy's no why everone split i live n.j now and i hate it your right we should stopped what happened we need to take back canarise back .i would love 2 have things back like it was p.s philip we don't wan/'t you back
Sept. 6, 2013, 2:39 am
kim from n.j says:
hallelulla i glad u went back home bklyn is the best i guess u did'nt stick around for the pizza
Sept. 6, 2013, 2:50 am

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