Now celebrating 98 years, the annual Italian event will be even more exciting with a musical lineup that rivals area music festivals.
Locals can enjoy the smooth jazz of none other than renowned actor Danny Aiello and his band, the lovely guitar strumming of Grammy-nominated Julio Fernandez of Spyro Gyra, local favorite swing band Swingadelic, festival regular Cristina Fontanelli, who will sing many classic Italian songs, and popular cover band The Nerds. Yet, these are only a few of the performers, see sidebar for complete music schedule.
The festival runs from Saturday, July 19 to Saturday, July 26 and typically draws thousands.
A Hoboken tradition
For nearly 100 years, locals, celebrities and dignitaries have visited the annual Italian festival, including former Pres. Ronald Reagan, who praised the zeppoles and comedian Joe Piscopo, who sang Sinatra songs at the 2005 event.
St. Ann's zeppole, a fried dough ball that is covered in powdered sugar, is a closely guarded secret of the members of the St. Ann's Guild.
"I think it is a great event for the city and the church," said Father Tom Crangle about the feast, who is pastor of St. Ann's Church and chaplain to the Hoboken Police Department. "It brings people together in the city and the church. It is a great opportunity."
Father Tom said that the actual recipe is guarded carefully by the Guild members and is a popular item at the feast. He said that they are made fresh every day for the festival and added that they already have 160 cases of flour in preparation.
"We are very grateful to Shop Rite, they donated everything for it," said Father Tom, who added that the feast is the largest fund raiser for the church. "We depend on this to survive during the year, especially as we try to expand our ministries."
At the annual feast, there are many who enjoy the food, which includes, of course, the sausage and pepper sandwich on a fresh baked Italian roll.
In addition to the food, hand-crafted items such as jewelry, candles, and commemorative T-shirts are available.
Also popular among Hoboken's 20-something crowd is the outdoor garden area that boasts the café stage. Adults can enjoy a glass of beer or wine in the relaxing outdoor café and soak up the sweet sound of live music.
Father Tom said that this year, the café stage will focus on local acts such as 3 Peace, Julio Fernandez, and others.
"The church has a long history of working with the arts," he said. "This year, we've revamped the celebration. The music of the church is going to be fabulous."
He added, "We [at St. Ann's] welcome all walks of life. We like people to see it as their home away from home. All are welcome here because of God's love."
A stellar lineup
There are many different kinds of music at the festival including jazz, rock, and Latin.
Father Tom said that they are "very excited as we approach our 100 year anniversary."
"We are opening up with a tribute to our troops," said Father Tom. "We are very aware of where our nation is right now, and we want to give tribute to [the soldiers].
The Nerds, an exciting rock cover band, returns to entertain the crowds with their medleys of popular songs and pitch perfect harmony.
Swingadelic, a Maxwell's regular that includes band members Dave Post, Buddy Terry, John Bauers, and others, will play their swinging jazz hits from their latest album.
Strawberry Fields, a Beatles tribute band, will perform popular hits from the British legends.
Throughout the week, locals can feel the heat of the Latin beat as Ray Sepulveda takes the stage or dance to the rock of 3 Peace, which includes talented members of Lifespeed and Tommy Lee's guitarist J3.
Capping off the week is Danny Aiello with Joe Geary & the Guys featuring Hasan. Aiello and Hasan worked together on the classic standard "Besame Mucho," that became a hit with jazz and rap fans alike.
Closing the festival is former Hobokenite Cristina Fontanelli, who has performed on the feast day for almost a dozen years. She will sing Italian classics, show tunes and more.
St. Ann's festival is held in St. Ann's square, which is by 7th and Jefferson streets. It is open every day from 6 to 11 p.m. and on the last day, July 26, it will be open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
FEAST OF SAINT ANN
Since 1910, Hoboken and the parishioners of St. Ann's Church have celebrated the feast of St. Ann, the mother of the Virgin Mary, in their own special way. It is one of the city's oldest traditions and also includes a nightly novena service at 7 p.m. inside the Roman Catholic Church in celebration of the feast of St. Ann.
St. Ann is the patron saint of women and fertility and it has long been thought to be good luck for expectant mothers to touch the statue for an easy birth or for women wishing to get pregnant. For 98 years, parishioners and young women join in the annual procession that takes place on the last day of the festival. Women devotees pray to the saint as they carry the large 600-pound statue through the streets of Hoboken. Father Tom said that many also come to pray for children who are sick. Mass will be held at 10 a.m. on July 26 and immediately following mass is the procession. In addition, there will be a special 5 p.m. mass for St. Ann.
All main stage concerts begin at 8:15 p.m. July 19 - USO Liberty Bells tribute to the troops (main stage; Endsley & the River Crossing (café stage)
July 20 - Allesandra Belloni & I Giullari di Piazza (main stage) 3 Peace (café stage)
July 21 - The Nerds (main stage) Salsa Yoruba (café stage)
July 22 - Ray Sepulveda (main stage) Cat Lingo featuring Julio Fernandez (café stage)
July 23 - Swingadelic (main stage) John Ellis & Double Wide (café stage)
July 24 - Strawberry Fields (main stage) Jennifer Lampert & John Colianni Quintet (café stage)
July 25 - Danny Aiello (main stage) Stratospheerius (café stage)
July 26 - Cristina Fontanelli (main stage) Jeremy Beck & Rural Free Delivery (café stage) For more information, visit: www.st-annchurch.com.
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