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Full San Gennaro Festival Approved by Mayor's Office

By Patrick Hedlund | March 1, 2011 11:59am | Updated on March 1, 2011 3:09pm
Workers set up last year's San Gennaro festival on Kenmare Street.
Workers set up last year's San Gennaro festival on Kenmare Street.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

LITTLE ITALY — The Feast of San Gennaro will run its full course this year following a contentious battle between supporters of the historic festival and NoLIta boutique owners, the mayor's office confirmed.

The 85-year-old event will take place on Mulberry Street between Houston and Canal streets, despite a recommendation by the local community board to end the festival at Kenmare Street to appease the increasing number of upscale clothing storeowners on Mulberry Street.

The festival will begin 30 minutes later, at 11:30 a.m., each day and end 30 minutes earlier, at midnight, on Friday and Saturday nights, said City Hall spokeswoman Evelyn Erskine.

During weekdays, the festival will close down at its usual time of 11 p.m., she added.

San Gennaro proponents mobilized en masse to protect the 11-day festival, earning support from nearly all the local elected officials in pushing to keep the full event intact.

"Of course we're elated, and we're going to continue to work with the boutiques on the northern end," said Vivian Catenaccio, vice president of the San Gennaro board.

Catenaccio added she never doubted the event would run the full route.

"Hopefully this will be our best year ever," she said.

The burgeoning Mulberry Street boutique community reacted ruefully to the news, claiming the festival will continue to hurt their bottom lines.

"Noboy likes this festival," said Lilly Yip, manager of Tang Dance on Mulberry Street, noting that her shop would simply close for the duration of the 11-day event.

"They always completely cover the street. We tried to [open during the festival], but there's no business."

Other simply resigned themselves to the fact that sales comes to a halt during the event.

"It does suck because they block our doorway," said Amanda Fulmer, a clerk at Proejct 234 on Mulberry Street.

"I'm OK with it for the first two days, but at the end I'm ready for it to be gone."

San Gennaro organizers have pledged to work more closely with the boutiques, offering to move street-food stands from in front of specific stores that complain.

But storeowners still aren't convinced that the festival can coexist with their operations.

"I'll just go on vacation," said Lisa Brooks, the owner of Damsel in Distress on Mulberry Street.

Despite the disturbance, Fulmer added that she supports San Gennaro's roots in the community.

"It doesn't last forever, life goes on," she said. "Who are we to hate celebration?"