Remembering the time I was about 8, walking under the grandstands and listening to the great singer Pavarotti!
To begin with, My childhood was one of adventure and belonging, where everyone living on Mulberry St would watch over everyone else. Safety was guaranteed and help was always there around you, so all young children never worried about their surrounding, except when you did something wrong, then 5 people would be there to scold you, threatening to tell your parents. Every year without fail there was the San Gennaro feast with preparations starting 5days before the event would happen. Workers would arrive with ladders and poles and crown shaped frames with multi-colored lights throughout. Using the street light poles as well as poles they set in between on each side, they then would set up each frame across from one pole to the other side pole with a frame going across the street. They did this starting from Canal St going North up Mulberry St past Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral onto Houston St. As this was happening, vendors began setting up their tents so that both sides were exposed to sell their wares, and tents were set up on both sides of the street. As all this was happening,we kids would be in the way and very excited to watch and maybe get a treat, but we were chased and told to get lost. The ones that had sweets would give us a treat to do just that “Get lost”. It was always so exciting and it was actually a better time for us than the actual feist, cause when it started, giant crowds of people would arrive and everyone was happy with their kids amazed at just being there. We locals were now kinda in the background staying pretty much out of the way. The big event was the statue of Saint Gennaro being carried down the center of the street with 6 men on each side carrying it, with two more men standing on top next to the statue being carried with it and their job was to pin the money bystanders gave to them as they passed by. The robes of the Saint was covered with bills mostly $1.00, but some higher values, Down the street it traveled till it reached the back entrance of St Patrick’s on Mulberry St. where it was placed so people could touch, or kiss the robes and again giving money to the two men now mostly watching over it. Then the music would start as the band played Opera music and major Italian Opera stars sang different Arias. We kids would go under the stage which was very dark and damp, and listen and just had fun watching it all take place. It was great to see all the rich people with their kids in tow and all excited to be there on our street, MULBERRY ST. This would continue well into the night, until the crowd became less and less and then the the feist would end for that night. It always lasted for 4 nights, and then the reverse happened, as all were taken down till next year. Then the city garbage people would arrive and stretch across the street all with their brooms in unison pushing the debree forward. We kids were in front of them looking for change that might have fallen, but with the men crowded tightly and moving in unison we couldn’t pick it up even if we were able to find any that might still be there! Again it was the fun in the doing rather than the finding. The men were only protecting their interests as when gather it all up, they would find a ton of stuff!