For the 101st time, visitors and residents alike will descend upon midtown Hoboken for the annual St. Ann’s Italian Festival beginning on July 21. The “feast,” which has turned into a widely known and renowned party, also serves as a fundraiser for the Parish of St. Ann on Jefferson Street and for various local charities. The feast runs from July 21 to July 26.
The event has been rated as one of the “100 Top Events” in North America by the American Bus Association, and hailed as “The Only and Only” by The New York Times. The Star-Ledger has called the event “an essential event of the summer.”
The center of the party is located in St. Ann’s Square at Seventh and Jefferson streets.
“It’s been 101 years. We must be doing something right.” – Marie Totaro
Performers include Cristina Fontanelli, Ray Rodriquez Y Swing Sabroso, Ryan Pelton, The Trammps, The Nerds, and The Bronx Wanders.
The most famous snack at the St. Ann’s feast is the fried, doughy zeppoles.
“We have a variety of foods this year, pretty much everything you can think of,” said Marie Totaro, the chairperson of the St. Ann’s feast committee. “This year we’re going to have a new café by where the main stage is; there will be pastries, as well as chairs and tables set up.”
The festival will be open July 21 and July 22 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; July 23 and July 24 from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m., July 25 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., and July 26 from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.
July 26 is the feast Day of St. Ann, and a special noontime Mass at St. Ann’s Church will take place followed by a procession of a 600-pound statue of St. Ann through the streets of Hoboken. The statue is carried exclusively by her female devotees.
Patron saint of pregnant women
St. Ann is the grandmother of Jesus, according to Christian tradition, and she is also the patron saint of pregnant women.
Totaro became the chairperson of the St. Ann’s feast committee in 1990, and said she begins planning for the next year’s celebration the day after the feast.
“There are so many aspects of the feast,” Totaro said.
Totaro said the event has grown exponentially over the years, noting that when she became the chair in 1990 there were only about four strings of lights put around the church. Now, there are approximately 22.
“We have grown,” she said. “It’s been 101 years. We must be doing something right.”
Totaro said “over 200 people” are involved in organizing the event.
Dave Bryngiel and Lou Tiscomia operate the bar area, which, like everything else involved with the feast, is run completely by volunteers. Tiscomia has worked the feast for more than 30 years.
All of the proceeds from the bar go back to the church, and the tips to bartenders are donated as well.
“We usually start planning in late winter and things really pick up in the spring,” Bryngiel said.
Bryngiel became involved in the feast through his family’s involvement in the parish.
“My mom grew up in Hoboken so she was a parishioner of St. Ann’s,” Bryngiel said. “She always used to tell us stories, and growing up in a blue collar town, we didn’t have a lot of money. She would tell us that the feast was like her summer vacation every year.”
Bryngiel became involved in the 1990s, and then around 2000 he made the jump to help out at the bar.
Totaro said the feast is a way to bring all of Hoboken and its visitors together.
“The people that left Hoboken always come back for this,” Totaro said. “You’ll see them at the feast. It’s sort of like a reunion. And the new people to Hoboken, they become friends of St. Ann’s. You have the old and the new coming together which is great because we welcome everyone.”
Ray Smith may be reached at RSmith@hudsonreporter.com
Entertainment lineup for 2011 St. Ann’s feast
All performances begin at 8:15 p.m. on the main stage, at Seventh and Jefferson streets in Hoboken.
July 21 – Cristina Fontanelli and Orchestra
July 22 – Ray Rodriquez, Y Swing Sabroso
July 23 – Ryan Felton – A tribute to Elvis Presley
July 24 – The Trammps
July 25 – The Nerds
July 26 – The Bronx Wanders