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An immoveable feast: City denies date-change for 18th Avenue Feast

Brooklyn Daily
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Bensonhurst’s biggest street festival will go on as regularly scheduled on Aug. 21, despite the wishes of its own planners.

Organizers of the Festa di Santa Rosalia — better known as the 18th Avenue Feast — asked the city in March to move the 11-day street party’s start date forward to Aug. 14 this year so that it wouldn’t end on Labor Day weekend.

But the city said fugghedaboudit in a letter issued to the organizers and Community Board 11 on July 30 — after the Santa Rosalia Society, which puts on the event, had already spent weeks advertising the earlier date.

The board’s district manager said the city dropped the ball in not telling them sooner that the new date was a no-go.

“We are very disappointed that the street activity office didn’t make plans as we recommended,” said district manager Marnee Elias-Pavia.

Several blogs and a local newspaper had reported that the festival date had been moved, but the city never approved the change in the permit date.

Organizers and the community board sought to move the festival amid concerns about sanitation, Elias-Pavia said. Starting on Aug. 21, this year’s fair will end on the Labor Day holiday weekend — when the Sanitation Department takes a holiday from collecting garbage — so bags of trash from the bash will sit rotting curbside for three nights, the administrator said.

“Being that is a commercial corridor, and it’s traditionally a shopping weekend, that doesn’t work,” said Elias-Pavia.

The 70-year-old feast, named for the patron saint of Palmero, Italy, stretches from 68th to 75th streets and celebrates Bensonhurst’s Italian-American community, which has dwindled in recent years from 17,143 in 2000 to 10,136 in 2012, according to census data.

This is not the first time there has been confusion about the festival. The Feast hit a paperwork snag in 2011, and organizers pulled the plug on it that year, but it returned in 2012. City officials approved street-closure permits for the 2013 festival just 24 hours before it was scheduled to start.

The Santa Rosalia Society could not be reached for comment, and the phone number listed on its permit application appears to be incorrect. The city did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Festa di Santa Rosalia or the 18th Avenue Feast (18th Avenue between 68th and 75th streets in Bensonhurst) Aug. 21–31. 6–11 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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