JERSEY CITY, NJ - La Festa Italiana, Jersey City’s oldest Italian festival, has been canceled for the first time in its more than 117-year history.

“Due to the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the current pandemic and out of concern for the safety and well-being of our volunteers, visitors, vendors, entertainers, etc… we have, with deep regret, made the difficult decision to cancel La Festa Italiana this year,” Nicholas Grillo, one of the organizers, said, referring to himself as “heartbroken.” 

“This decision was made after much discussion, deliberation, prayer and consultation with the City of Jersey City.”

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La Festa Italiana traditionally runs for a week in August in front The Holy Rosary Church on Sixth Street in Historic Downtown Jersey City.

The Old-World Italian feast honors the veneration of Maria SS. Dell’Assunta & San Rocco and has offered the Downtown community the opportunity to party with their neighbors. The event features live bands, rides for kids and a number of traditional Italian delicacies, many of which were made by Holy Rosary’s parishioners.

Many of the long-time residents of that part of Jersey City have fond memories of the festival, some of whom attended the event as children, later to become vendors working there.

The church was established in 1885. The original families came from Morrone Del Sannio in Italy. 

Grillo also lamented that the rules for reopening eateries throughout Jersey City will benefit some restaurants over others and put a burden on vendors who would be doing business at the festival.

“I think there is a complete lack of knowledge from elected officials on the nuances of the restaurant business,” Grillo said, sharing his belief that the rules that have been established for reopening eateries throughout the city will benefit some over other, and put a burden on vendors who would usually be doing business at the festival.

“They are saying add outdoor seating, well if they aren't on the pedestrian plaza there isn't much sidewalk space to add enough tables to even make money. No one realizes the profit margin for restaurants is around 30 percent. That's based on their seating capacity. There needs to be huge push back from restaurant owners to be able to open at capacity.”

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