At La Festa 2022, festival goers can look forward to a great time with the friends and family they missed during the pandemic, Co-Chairman and La Festa’s Emcee Nick Grillo says, adding, “La Festa has become Jersey City’s favorite summertime event, and when you ask patrons why they love it so much, it’s always the same answer: ‘We never had this growing up.’ It’s wonderful to share our century-old tradition with all the new residents of Jersey City.”
Rocking Tunes & Dancing in the Streets
Now in its 119th year, La Festa brings community tradition to Jersey City’s Historic Downtown neighborhood with bands performing live every night for festival goers who love to dance or just tap their toes in time to the tunes. This year’s entertainment roster is a Who’s Who of musical talent, and a new band performs each night from 7-11pm. Opening Night, Wed, Aug 10, it’s the Springsteen tribute band, B-STREET BAND. Thurs, Aug 11, THE COUNTERFEITERS. Fri, Aug 12, TOGA PARTY BAND. Sat, Aug 13, THE CAMEOS; and, on Closing Night, Sun, Aug 14, TOTAL SOUL.
Leader of the B-STREET BAND Will Forte says his Springsteen Tribute Band is thrilled to come back to La Festa in Jersey City after so many years of getting to know members of the parish.
“I always look forward to Holy Rosary’s La Festa,” Forte says. “We’re a six-piece, Springsteen tribute band and people like to watch us play. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We just want people to have a good time.”
A Foodie’s Paradise
La Festa will be “A Foodie’s Paradise” with new food trucks like YOUR SISTERS BALLS, serving homemade meatballs and sauce. Owners of YOUR SISTERS BALLS, mother-daughter team Debra Visciano and Nicole Montecalvo are new to La Festa Italiana. They’ll be serving three types of meatballs with crispy Italian bread to sop up the red gravy
“I heard about La Festa, looked it up online and it looks fabulous,” Visciano says. “The first festival we ever did was San Gennaro in New York City, where we made 5,000 meatballs in three weeks. The recipes were passed down from my grandmother from Naples, and my daughter has a little Sicilian in her, so she puts her twist on the recipe.”
It wouldn’t be La Festa without an authentic Italian sausage with peppers and onions on a hard roll and DELLANO’S is back once again to bring festival goers that traditional sandwich. JERSEY& CO. GELATO and MAGLIONE’S ITALIAN ICES will offer cool summer treats. QSINA will serve traditional Philippines BBQ. Pizza made on the spot is a specialty of PIE OH MY PIZZA and it’s wood-fired, too. Yummy WAFFLE & CREPES, and TROPICAL ISLANDS smoothies will also sweeten things. ANNABELLA’S MOZZARELLA and MAIZE AREPA will bring their crowd faves to La Festa, and WHITE STAR BAR will have three (3) locations this year to sell craft beers & cocktails to cool off the crowds. One of our new vendors SAND ART CREATIONS will be selling colorful souvenirs the kids can make and take home.
Highlights of La Festa are the Italian specialties handmade by church parishioners like the Zeppole made from a secret recipe and served dusted with powdered sugar. Homemade Rice Balls (Arancini) drizzled with tomato gravy always wow the crowds. At Caffe Italiano located behind Holy Rosary, our ‘Church Ladies’ will sell freshly made cakes, cannoli, pies, coffee and tea. There’s plenty of family seating in the back along with the popular Money Wheel and DJ CARLY who will provide the backyard’s musical soundtrack.
Jersey City Firefighter Kevin Hennessey, owner of O’Leary’s Publik House on Garfield Avenue hosts the Wine & Peaches booth again this year. “We had a lot of fun at La Festa last year,” Hennessey says. “We met some new people. It was a blast.” O’Leary’s Public House will also be serving Limoncello shots from a recipe Hennessey has been working on since February: “We keep testing and refining, testing and refining. We’ve got a good batch.”
La Festa Sponsors
A 501© (3) entity, La Festa continues year-after-year thanks to financial support from our Gold, Silver and Diamond Sponsors. This year, our Gold Sponsors are Johnston Communications, Ziggy’s Auto Body, and Murray Paving & Concrete. Silver Sponsors include Riotto Funeral Home, Panepinto Properties, Key Foods Fresh & Natural, Plaza Funeral Home, Commonwealth/Fleetwood Trucking, and Inserra ShopRite. Diamond Sponsors are Grillo Funeral Services, Commercial District Services, and Sorrentino Electric. Our big Super 50/50 drawing will be at the end of La Festa on Sunday night, sponsored by Tony Ferrara & Associates.
Triduum, Feast Day Masses and Procession
On Aug. 11, 12, & 13, Holy Rosary Church will hold the Assumption & St. Rocco Triduum. On Sun, Aug. 14, at 11:30 am, the Feast Day Mass venerating Maria SS. Dell ’Assunta and San Rocco will be celebrated. Holy Rosary’s traditional Street Procession will follow the Mass, with statues of Maria SS. Dell ‘Assunta and San Rocco carried through the neighborhood as a blessing to Downtown Jersey City. The Clarity Festival Band joins us once again to play traditional Italian melodies along the Procession route.
Faithful are invited to return on Mon, Aug 15, at 11 am for the celebration of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and again on Tues, Aug 16, as we honor the Feast of San Rocco Healing Mass. Holy Rosary Church’s religious traditions help strengthen the community, the Very Rev. Pastor Jerzy “Jurek” R. Zaslona says, and community fellowship is another highlight of La Festa.
“After the pandemic, we were so happy to see La Festa come back to life,” Fr. Jurek says. “People came out in large numbers to enjoy the great food and music and we are hoping to see more friends and families this year. When people come to La Festa, they come for the music and the food, but they also come for the fellowship, to see friends, and create happy memories for their children. We are here to serve the people of Jersey City.”
Founded in 1885, Holy Rosary Church is the first Italian Church in New Jersey; and La Festa Italiana is Holy Rosary’s special way of saying thank you to its parishioners and neighbors. The Church will be open for visitors to see up-close the magnificent beauty that is Holy Rosary Church. Visitors are invited to offer a 7-day Memorial Candle before San Rocco or the Blessed Mother in honor of, or in memory of their loved ones. Donation is $10 per candle, and candles will be available in the church vestibule every evening from 5-to-9 pm. Rosary beads, handmade by parishioner Stanley, will be for sale inside the church.
For more information, please call us at (201) 795-0120 or (201) 776-9222, or visit our website: www.lafestajc.com; our Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/lafestaitalianajc; and our Instagram page, @lafestaitaliana.