Holy Rosary Church celebrates 113th Italian Festival in Downtown JC
By Sally Deering
August nights are a time to celebrate when La Festa Italiana, the Old World Italian Street Festival hosted by Holy Rosary Church turns Historic Downtown Jersey City into five summer nights of music, dancing, food and fun!
La Festa Italiana 2016 begins Wed, Aug. 10, and continues through Sun, Aug. 14, on Sixth & Brunswick Streets. On these five summer nights, the neighborhood surrounding Holy Rosary Church will come alive with rocking dance music, games of chance, kids’ activities, and a wide-array of delicious foods and libations. La Festa Italiana runs from 5 pm-11 pm Wednesday-to-Friday, and 3 pm-11 pm Saturday & Sunday. The last night (Sunday) at 11 pm, the “Super 50/50” Raffle winner will be chosen. Last year’s ticket-holder won over $10,200.
La Festa Italiana honors the veneration of Maria SS. Dell’Assunta & San Rocco, and offers the Downtown community the opportunity to party with its neighbors. This year’s La Festa Italiana features live bands, fun for the kids, food and souvenir vendors and Italian delicacies made by Holy Rosary Church parishioners like Fresh Hot Zeppoles, lemony Limoncello and “Our Famous Rice Balls”.
Founded in 1885, Holy Rosary Church is the first Italian Roman Catholic Parish in New Jersey. Pastor of Holy Rosary Church, the Rev. Jerzy (Jurek) Zaslona says La Festa Italiana pays tribute to the church’s 131-year history and strengthens community ties.
“I thoroughly enjoy this five-night feast,” Rev. Zaslona says. “As a church, we are here to serve the people of Jersey City and La Festa Italiana gives us the opportunity to become a more integrated community.”
La Festa Italiana 2016 has a 5-star line-up of music performed by live bands and music groups, featuring
Wed, Aug 10: CRAZY 80’s
Thurs, Aug 11: LTZ (Less Than Zero)
Fri, Aug 12: Matt Colligan & Friends
Mike Buscio Acoustic (Caffe Italiano)
Sat, Aug 13: The Cameos
Party of Five Acapella (Caffe Italiano)
Sun, Aug 14: Total Soul
Every night of the festival, on 6th & Brunswick St., DJ Dan of Blueline Productions will keep the party dancing!
Our sponsors for La Festa Italiana 2016 include Brunswick Center, Tony Ferrara & Associates of Jersey City, Grillo for Council-Nicholas J. Grillo 2017, Dr. Michele J. Dimaira, DMD, MS, PA, Catholic Cemeteries, Panepinto Properties, Commonwealth/Fleetwood, Monteleone’s Bakery, Sorrentino Electric, and Yelp.
This year, La Festa Italiana 2016 will be a “Foodie’s Paradise” with vendors like Mayon Grill’s Filipino BBQ, Pure ‘n’ Simple Flatbreads’ coal-fired brick oven pizzas, the Angry Crab food truck serving crab cakes and lobster rolls; and Liege (Belgian) Waffles which will also serve crepes with lots of topping choices, and they have a gluten-free crepe, too. And there’s more, like mouth-watering Italian sausage sandwiches, Greek specialties, and delicious desserts including hand-made cannolis at Caffe Italiano in Holy Rosary’s backyard.
Lots of returning, local food vendors, too, like Gia’s Gelato & Café in Jersey City, which will be selling 26 flavors of Gelato like “Kitty Kitty Bang Bang”, vanilla gelato with Oreo cookies, raspberries and white chocolate. Owners Angela Ratliff and Deb Brackett agree La Festa Italiana has been great for business and offers many opportunities to meet people who eventually become regulars.
“It allows us to be part of the community and reach out to a large number of potential customers,” Brackett says. “When we sell Gelato at La Festa, we talk to so many customers who become aware of all we sell at Gia’s down the street.”
Luna’s Bowtique will sell hair products like bows and headbands, and be sure to visit the Radical Wellness tent, where you can purchase essential oils, teas, and energy-therapy products.
“We’ll be bringing a lot of new blends, teas, oils, and energy balancing bracelets, which were a big hit last year,” owner Jimmy Benito says. “At La Festa, we meet a lot of new people and build relationships with them.”
This is the 8th year Jason Gitlin, owner of Delenio’s will be selling his delicious Brooklyn-style pizzas (thin crust) with fresh homemade Mozzarella, meatball sliders, clams and mussels.
“La Festa is a good experience and a great way to make new friends,” Gitlin says. “The people at Holy Rosary are really good people. I have a photograph from 1921 in my restaurant. It’s the same festival. All the people and police are lined up on 6th Street. La Festa is a long-running tradition that’s great for the neighborhood.”
Lucky Honey Bee is a full-range of natural bee products that will again be sold at this year’s La Festa Italiana. Other ‘stars’ of the festival are the Hourly 50/50s, and the popular Money Wheel.
On Sat, Aug. 13, church parishioners who are Ferris High School alumni can meet at the Parish Center for the 7th annual Ferris High School Reunion & Caffe Italiano, where Michael Buscio Acoustic and Party of Five Doo Wop will be entertaining. Both Buscio and Party of Five’s Joe Calamito are sons of Holy Rosary Church.
Religious traditions are another important highlight of La Festa Italiana 2016.
A Novena will be celebrated for nine days from August 6-14, in veneration to Our Lady of Assumption.
On Mon., Aug. 15, at 11 am, the Assumption Feast Day Mass, in veneration to Maria SS. Dell’Assunta will be celebrated. At this Mass, we will celebrate the memory of Most Rev. Thomas A. Donato, a son and dear friend of Holy Rosary Church. The Most Rev. John W. Flesey, a long-time friend of Bishop Donato is the Celebrant.
On Tues., Aug 16, at 11 am, the St. Rocco Feast Day Mass will be celebrated.
La Festa Italiana is Holy Rosary Church’s special way of saying thank you to its parishioners and neighbors, as it celebrates 131 years of serving the spiritual needs of its parish and the Historic Downtown Jersey City community. For many years, La Festa Italiana has been the church’s biggest fundraiser for the restoration and upkeep of the church. During La Festa Italiana 2016, the church will be open for visitors to see up close the magnificent beauty that is Holy Rosary Church. Visitors are also welcome to donate a 7-day Memorial Candle in memory of a loved-one.
“Traditions and customs define us as a community,” Rev. Zaslona says. “As a country we have traditions and customs that are recognized and embraced by those who come here; the same with our traditions as a church. People like to become part of established traditions, therefore, it is important to cultivate and cherish these traditions for generations to come.”
If you go
Wed, Thurs, Fri, Aug. 10, 11, 12 from 5 pm-11 pm
Sat & Sun, Aug. 13 & 14, 3 pm-11 pm
La Festa Italiana 2016
Sixth & Brunswick Streets, JC