If the red, green, and white decorations weren’t a dead giveaway, Bensonhurst’s beloved 18th Avenue Feast is here!
The 10-day Italian food and culture festival, formally known as Festa di Santa Rosalia, kicks off tomorrow, August 20, at 6pm, and will last through August 30. Opening night will feature Italian singer Walter Curella, and several elected officials will be in attendance, including Councilman Vincent Gentile, Assemblyman Peter Abbate, Senator Marty Golden, and Borough President Eric Adams.
On weekdays, the Feast will run from 6pm to 11pm. Weekends get an earlier start, running from 11am to 11pm.
The annual event — which floods 18th Avenue between 68th Street and 75th Street with food stands, rides and entertainment — has run into its share of wrinkles in recent years. In 2011, the festival was suddenly canceled, and business owners on the corridor have expressed mixed feelings about the continuous block party over the years, citing trash and noise concerns. Last year, Community Board 11 tried to change the date of the 18th Avenue Feast for the first time in 37 years, to allow for better cleanup before Labor Day weekend, but the bid was rejected by the city.
This year, festival organizers told us that they hope the diverse selection of performers will revitalize the 40-year-old neighborhood tradition. Musical entertainers booked for the festival include both traditional Italian singers and D.J.s who will be playing exclusively dance/pop music.
“Come on down and witness the new side of the Feast that is better than other years,” said Angelo Timoneri, one of the of the parade’s organizers. “We have a different singer every night, and some nights there will be a D.J. playing pure dance music.”
The festival will culminate on August 30, at 2pm, when neighbors will accompany the statue of the saint in 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 short mass at the church at 3pm, and those who stick around will be treated to free cannoli and refreshments from Villabate Alba after the service.
The event honors the patron saint of Palermo, Sicily, where the “Festa” has been celebrated continuously since 1624. Organizers of the Bensonhurst event say it’s the largest Italian-American festival in Brooklyn.
For more info, see the flier below: