YORKTOWN, N.Y. - For four nights last week, the Yorktown Feast of San Gennaro closed down Commerce Street as thousands enjoyed fresh food, live entertainment, games, rides and more.
The second annual festival, which ran from Thursday to Sunday, was highlighted by a Saturday night appearance from Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York. Dolan, surrounded by a large crowd of admirers, said a brief prayer in front of the statue of Saint Gennaro.
“God bless this great festival and all the wonderful people in the community,” Dolan said.
The statue, which was used in Little Italy’s original San Gennaro processions, was on loan to the Yorktown Feast of San Gennaro by Church of the Most Precious Blood, the national shrine church of San Gennaro, on Mulberry Street in Little Italy.
“San Gennaro was a bishop, so I had a particular devotion to him,” Dolan said. “He was a brave man and he died as a martyr in defense of his Catholic faith.”
The festival kicked off Thursday night with a procession down Commerce Street, led by Grand Marshall Tony Grasso, a Yorktown resident for more than 50 years. Grasso, 88, is a first-generation American; his grandfather came to the United States from Italy in 1902, followed by his father in 1912.
“I happen to be the son of an immigrant, and it’s immigrants that made this country, no matter where you came from,” Grasso said. “We’re all here as proud Americans, and let’s not ever, ever forget that.”
A portion of proceeds from the feast are donated to faith-based groups, community charities and civic organizations. One of the donations goes to a beneficiary designated by the feast’s grand marshal. Grasso chose the Pines Bridge Monument fund. The proposed statue would pay homage to “America’s first veterans,” who fought locally in the Revolutionary War.
Tom Pomposello, an organizer of the feast, said next year’s festival will be five days long.
Photos by Tabitha Pearson Marshall