Dave Arellano may have regaled visitors to the opening night of the 2014 St. Ann’s Italian Festival with a rendition of “New York, New York,” but there were no “little town blues” on display. Despite the threat of ominous clouds, Hoboken residents and out-of-towners from Jersey City, North Bergen, and beyond came out in scores to kick off the 104th edition of the Hoboken tradition this past Wednesday.
Even as families chowed down and teens fooled around, the solemn underpinnings of the festival were never far from view. At around 6 p.m., Father Remo DiSalvatore circumnavigated the neighborhood in his full Capuchin robes, anointing every vendor down to the tilt-a-whirl with holy water.
On the microphone Arellano would later use to serenade onlookers, DiSalvatore asked God that each guest to the festival be blessed with deeper sense of faith and appreciation of St. Ann, the grandmother of Jesus Christ and focal point of Saturday’s feast day and procession.
Inside the church, Friar Michael Marigliano led a healthy congregation in a blessing of single adults.
In the Hoboken Reporter preview of the festival last week, festival co-chair Marie Totaro promised a cornucopia of international food, and this year’s vendors have delivered. Among the delicacies blessed by Father DiSalvatore were cheesecake on a stick, cheesesteak (on a roll), gyros, sliders, Belgian waffles, empanadas, crepes, arepas, and fried clams. The only thing not present, it seemed, was a low-calorie option.
The inimitable presence of the St. Ann’s Guild zeppoles goes without saying. In just the first few hours of the festival, the line for the fried dough balls reached 17 people long at one point.
The benedictions to St. Ann could not prevent a downpour from cutting the festivities short later in the evening.
Carlo Davis may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.