NOLITA, N.Y. (WPIX)—By all accounts, the Feast is a beast. It's been around for more than 80 years, generates more than a hundred thousand dollars for the city, and takes over Mulberry Street from Houston to Canal Streets every September for more than a week. Newish NoLita businesses are fighting it, saying the Italian tradition cuts into their revenues, some by 70%.
Vivian Catenaccio's grandfather helped found the Feast of San Gennaro, "There is no other institution, festival in the United States that has gone to 85 years and now this little group that comes in and now they want to turn everything upside down."
Now, the businesses have the support of Community Board 2. It's asking the city to scale back the festival. If the city agrees, the celebration will stop at Kenmare Street.
Roxie Cullen manages a shop called Bag and says her profits usually dip in half, "I'm pretty happy with the decision, I think it's a good compromise because I know it wouldn't be realistic to have the festival stopped."
But some people who support the Feast, like San Gennaro Boardmember John Fratta say why can't Bag and others make money? "You've got thousands and thousands of people walking on our sidewalks the streets, if you can't generate business, then you better go check and see how you're operating your business, something's wrong." To that, Cullen says, "It's not really our customer base that we would normally have, it's really just people going for a fun street fair not really looking to buy a nice leather handbag or a nice pair of shoes. Fratta says that attitude is purely bigotry. He and other supporters say why fight a Feast that gives money to charity? San Gennaro Boardmember Bob Marshall says they've made concessions, "We have given up various stands, we stopped Drown the Clown because people objected to the noise." But, still, the Board is asking for the Feast to scale it down.
It's now in the hands of the Mayor's Street Activities Permit Office to make the final call.