Everything You Need to Know About This Year’s 18th Avenue Feast

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Photo by William Caruso

Photo by William Caruso

Get ready, party people, because Bensonhurst’s 18th Avenue Feast is back!

The 41st annual Festa di Santa Rosalia starts August 18, on the boulevard named for Cristoforo Colombo, between 68th Street and 75th Street, and continues through August 28.

On weekdays, the Feast will bring delicious food, live music, rides, and carnival games to the strip from 6pm to 11pm. Weekends start earlier, with the festival running from 11am to 11pm.

The 10-day event honors the patron saint of Palermo, Sicily, where the “Festa” has been celebrated continuously since 1624. Organizers of the Bensonhurst event say it is the largest Italian-American festival in Brooklyn.

This year, the shrine and statue dedicated to Saint Rosalia — which has endured decades of wear and tear — has been restored with a new paint job and other touch ups thanks to a generous donation from one parishioner named Cosmo Campanella.

“There was a chip on the hand last year, and that’s been fixed, and it looks just wonderful,” said festival organizer Angelo Timoneri. “It’s a must-see.”

The Feast kicks off with a concert by Staten Island-based cover band Good Noise, and local elected officials and community leaders — including Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce president Carlo Scissura, Borough President Eric Adams, Councilman Mark Treyger, Senator Marty Golden, Assemblyman Peter Abbate, Councilman Vincent Gentile — will be honored on the opening day.

Photo by B.Y. Lei

Photo by B.Y. Lei

Timoneri recommends neighbors also show up on Saturday, August 27, when Gio Vanutto Band will spin their classic mix of old and new dance tunes, and for the finale on August 28, when the wedding band’s spinoff R3 Brothers will perform. “The last two days are going to be awesome. These guys are out of this world,” said Timoneri.

The festival will culminate on August 28 with a procession up 18th Avenue and then back down 20th Avenue to Saint Dominic’s Roman Catholic Church (2001 Bay Ridge Parkway). The march will be followed by a 3pm mass at the church, and, as always, parishioners will be treated to free cannoli and refreshments, courtesy of Villabate Alba, after the service.

If you are a business owner and would like to rent a space at this year’s Feast, the person to contact is Frank at (516) 428-1077, or Timoneri at (718) 234-0160.

Check out these photos from last year’s Feast and see the flyer below!
eric adam flyer

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  • Veal Parmigiana

    Yay! I’m ready.

  • Black Adam

    10 dollar sausage and peppers hero.

    • Sean F

      Normally, even at such prices, a Lucy’s S&P hero would have me salivating at the thought. Today, not so much because my wife made me her homemade S&P for dinner last night. Nothing compares to homemade.

    • Frank Tighe

      Sausage and peppers is about Italian as Spaghetti and meatballs

  • Emerald5Forever

    Looks cool, might check out.

  • Diane Venezia

    I wish they would stop this – it’s nothing like it was back in the day. It just makes 18th Avenue even more dirty than it already is!!!!

    • Monica Engel

      Is the neighborhood’s large Chinese community being invited to participate. They are the ones that have revitalized 18th Avenue with new businesses. The Chinese could teach us a lesson- they are perhaps the most tolerant people you will meet.

      • Diane Venezia

        Revitalized 18th Avenue – they are the ones that ruined 18th Avenue and the whole neighborhood

        • Sean F

          Not even close, Diane. The Chinese have raised property values in this neighborhood by 3x what they were a few years ago. They’ve fixed up houses that were falling into neglect as their non-Asian owners aged. They’ve restored bustling shopping areas back where there was little but gated and graffittied storefronts back in the 80s and 90s. They’ve taken back our parks from bad elements by hosting mass tai chi classes. I’ve lived around here my whole life, and the neighborhood hasn’t been this exciting and happening in decades.

        • Andy

          I won’t say they are ruining it. They’re the ones that are paying over a million for my run down house. If you ask all the local realtors, they will tell you 9 out of 10 houses are bought by the chinese. Who else is going to pay 1.5 million for a two family attached house in Brooklyn. For each Italian bakery that goes out of business an asian one opens up.. Honestly, most Italian are taking the money and running to Staten Island for a bigger house with extra cash in pocket.. Why is that bad???

        • MJ

          according to NYPD compstat, crime complaints at the 62 precinct have declined by 52% over the 4 weeks period ending 8/7/2016, and down 20% from two years ago.

        • joe

          But Did the chinese really ruin the neighborhood? Or is it the people that gave up on the neighborhood and businesses and decided to pack up and leave for the suburbs?

      • Sean F

        Everyone is invited, Monica. It’s a Catholic saint’s feast, which means it welcomes everyone, regardless of race. Anyone who thinks otherwise should go live as a hermit as St. Rosalia did.

        • Monica Engel

          Thank you Sean.

    • ar

      Screw u! and your miserable attitude!

    • X

      Diana Venezia is an example of ignorance. Exactly what the #BlackLivesMatter is about. White privilege at its worst. Always shaming other races.

      • DS

        What does BLM have to do with a person raising concerns over gentrification and an insolvent real estate market? Granted, there probably are Chinese Catholics who may participate in this event. In any case, I bet the Asian community is hostile to BLM, as evident in the movement that centered around the murder of one of their own, PO Liu, and around the targeting of PO Liang.

        • X

          Gentrification is when whites take over communities predominately with minority races, like Asian, black, Latinos. Not the other way around. Chinese empathize with BLM, that is why you do not understand this movement.

  • EndofDaze

    Things change. But the atmosphere of Bensonhurst ( the friendliness, the humor, the sense of neighborliness, and dynamism) is not like it was, when the Italian Americans, and non orthodox American Jews, lived there in great numbers, and made the community so beloved within the American mosaic! That’s not to write there weren’t occasional problems, but a simple check of the alumni rolls of schools like New Utrecht, Lafayette, and FDR from the 1940’s through the early 1980’s would reveal an unusually large number of people, that were nurtured there, who went on to become among America’s most accomplished and decent folks, in a number of fields!

    • MJ

      yes, and there’s a lot of tutoring centers open up in Bensonhurst, so many parents are keeping their children busy with academic as a priority

      • Emerald5Forever

        True, like Kumon and more.

        • Sean F

          I highly recommend Chang’s Learning Center on Bath. They did a great job with my kids.

    • Emerald5Forever

      Hm, it isn’t beloved anymore?

      I agree; Charles Wang graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School (my alma mater as well!) and has become an accomplished businessman and philanthropist…great achievement.

    • Sean F

      It’s impossible to compare any NYC public school with it’s past history. Except for the specialized high schools, the everyday ones are a bare shadow of themselves, and it’s not because of the community. The entire public school system here has been failing for decades because of mismanagement at the top, and constantly shifting “theories” of education. It’s time to stop experimenting on our children, and just teach them the fundamentals they need to succeed.

    • Dorothy Berman

      Lots of new people in Bensonhurst but the neighborhood is still friendly and fun. You especially see it in playgrounds where kids of all ethnicities are playing together. Again, different people but still very fine.

    • joe

      But those “great” people decided to pack up and leave instead of staying loyal to the neighborhood and raising a family there just like they were raised. Can’t really blame the chinese or russians for moving in. Its not like the italians were forced to sell, they chose to leave and give up on the neighborhood. Just like Little italy, manhattan/ East Harlem / Carnarsie/ Morris Park, Bronx etc….

      • Dorothy Berman

        The new residents of the neighborhood, the Chinese and the Russians are tolerant people who would have gotten along well with the Italians if they had stayed. These newcomers have revitalized a neighborhood that was going to need “like in the ’80’s urban renewal”.

        • DS

          Do you count the newcomers, illegal/undocumented, from Latin America, who tag up the neighborhood with gang graffiti, as tolerant? This blog reported graffiti from gangs including the California-based Sureños” (SUR 13), the Warrios, Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13), and Mexican gang “La Raza”.

          • Sean F

            DS. Dorothy did say she was talking about Chinese and Russians. But secondarily, there has been no evidence that the Latino gang tags were actually painted by Latinos. NYPD says there is no reported Latin gang activity in the area.

            As I’ve said before, in the 80s and early 90s, you couldn’t walk down any business area in Bensonhurst without noting that every storefront was tagged and graffitied. This is not a new development brought in by other ethnic groups. It’s been with us for decades, and is actually less prevalent now than it was back then.

  • Mike Betancourt

    I’m for what the feast is about but it’s sad how the neighborhood is becoming it’s not the fact that more Chinese are moving in what bothers me is the thuggery that is growing in this hood last year someone got shot and stabbed. And how about these dam rub & tug massage palors that been popping up everywhere. If these massage palors were in certain parts of the city they would get shut down immediately.

    • Sean F

      Difficult times usually results in an increase in robberies, muggings, assaults and break-ins. There are still a lot of people recovering from the recession who resort to illegal means to get by. It doesn’t help that drug use also went up.

      As for the massage parlors, they’ve down a few sweeps and shutdowns, but it’s a Whack-A-Mole game.

      • ringranger1

        I thought whack-a-mole was what went on inside?

        • Sean F

          If you’ve got a mole there, you’d better get to a dermatologist.

  • Sue ellen

    I’m reading all comments and my conclusions is that people long for the old neighborhood when everyone knew each other and watched out for each other. They shared the same cultures, foods,traditions,etc. The Italians left,and the Chinese stay to themselves. They don’t mingle with other ethnicities,unless they are catholic. The Chinese have a different way of life,but at least the neighborhood is safe. They are educated and work hard for what they have. I can’t say anything bad about them. They are good people.It’s the Italians who have sold out and left

  • Sal

    It’s ridiculous to say that in the last few years Chinese people came in and raised the property values by 3x Sean f. Maybe they’ve opened up stores where old stores were failing, but what did they open? Nail salons, dollar stores, Chinese restaurants and massage parlors, that’s it. So instead of having some vacant stores, they’re all filled in with multiple businesses that are exactly the same. Chinese people do not revitalize neighborhoods. They make money, buy houses and stick to themselves. They are not involved in the communities and they take over and overpopulate very quickly. Just go to shore Parkway during the day and every minute you will see another drivers ed car going by. Showing just how many Chinese people are really here and reproducing. I have no problem with diversity. But this is extreme because they don’t mix into a neighborhood, they take over! And their culture is so different to what was once the culture of bensonhurst, for example, that it’s a culture shock. Some things they do is so nasty out makes you wonder what goes on in China. Shooting snot from their noses, biting their toenails off, and in public no less, eating meals on the trains and most of all, picking their noses right in front of people without a care in the world. Don’t blame Italian people for leaving because what really happened was this: One day, people woke up and the neighborhood was so loaded with these people of such different culture, that it was changed forever. That’s when people started selling their properties in record numbers because it was already changing, not the other way around.

    • Sean F

      Fact: my property values have increased 3x in the past several years. What was once a relatively modest real estate investment is now worth enough that I could sell tomorrow, move out of Brooklyn and retire comfortably on the proceeds. The value didn’t increase much at all in the previous 16 years before the Asian influx really took off.

      It doesn’t matter what businesses are here (as long as they are legal). The community seems to be able to sustain multiple options for the same services.

      The Chinese mix fine, and politely. There are several running for office, and they are organizing for the benefit of the neighborhood.

      Yes, some have poor hygeine and do things in public that are nasty. The young Asians I know have been teaching the elders about proper use of tissues. It’s not as though no Caucasian in this neighborhood never peed on a wall, or ate on the subway. I had to install a light in my basement stairwell because I kept finding white kids smoking pot or peeing there. Classic scene in Saturday Night Fever has Travolta and friends peeing off the VNB. The Asiansyare doing all the things every other ethnic group has done., and still do.

      The neighborhood changed because the young people wanted to live in the City, or the burbs, and they left their aging parents with homes that were not going to stay in the family. That’s how I got my current home 20 years ago (and I’m dealing with State Marshalls who show up ftom time to time looking for the lovely Italian fellow who lived here befire me. Those people took the money and ran, and it’s been a blessing. To those who don’t like the community any longer, and want to go elsewhere, I say “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

    • Ryan

      move to borough park with jews

      • Dorothy Berman

        Jews are good people. I am one of them. They would even accept you.

        • Frank Tighe

          why do you Jews calls us goyim

          • Miriam Heisler

            It is not meant as a slur – not at all- it is the Jewish word for Gentile.

          • Sean F

            Why do you call them “Jews” instead of “Jewish people”? Goyim often say the word “Jews” with a distinct tone of disdain. Personally, I try to avoid using the abbreviation.

    • Dorothy Berman

      Chinese culture is very respectful. They have open many different markets, bakeries and gift shops. Maybe, to you it’s a culture shock but to many it’s an opportunity to learn of a different culture filled with hard working decent people. They do mix. They greet non-Chinese customers in their stores in English and despite Evan’s remarks do stock non-Asian items in their stores. Also, they have renovated the homes they have bought where many were in disrepair. That’s why any non-Asian real estate agents in Brooklyn will tell you how much property values have gone up in Bensonhurst. Most Chinese markets and restaurants have an “A” from the Board of Health. You can check on it.

    • Asian college kid

      As an educated Asian American, it’s so disheartening to see what ignorance and bigotry can produce. Must I carry a trigger warning on my forehead so we don’t offend your backward thinking ass?

      There will always be people with less than respectful manners no matter what ethnic background they’re from. Let me explain why you might be targeting Asians specifically. You see yourself as an outsider in a changing community, as a concern resident you are only pinpoint the bad aspect of your new neighbors and not the good.

      Give us a chance, we’re great people. Its actually disgusting for me to even have to ask someone to her to know us before judging… I wonder what protestants had to say when them catholics rolled around in the turn of the 20th century..

      And onto your argument about business. Its safe to say that if the businesses are not closing /or have vacancies, people are getting paid and money is being cycled back into the economy.

      Again Asians dont bite, cheers

    • Miriam Heisler

      I am impressed with the variety of businesses that the Chinese have opened. Their culture is different but very decent. Their food markets are well stocked and have a diverse amount of goods. They did not take over Bensonhurst- they brought it up. They do mix- you will see Chinese patronizing the Italian grocers and bake shops. They are very friendly people and usually stop to greet their neighbors. There will always be exceptions, but the Chinese could teach the world tolerance.