La Festa Italiana 2017 Rocks On in JC
Holy Rosary Church Celebrates Great Food, Fab Drinks, and Live Music
By Sally Deering
At every turn you’ll see a familiar face at La Festa Italiana Jersey City 2017, Holy Rosary Church’s 114th annual “Old World” Italian Street Festival to be held in Downtown Jersey City. For five consecutive days and nights, from Wed, Aug. 9th through Sun, Aug. 13th, Sixth & Brunswick Streets will be rockin’ with live bands, swinging soloists, fabulous foods, thirst-quenching drinks and frolicking fun for the kids. (Hours are Wed-Fri, 5 pm-11 pm; Sat & Sun, 3 pm-11 pm.)
The entertainment roster is a Who’s Who of talent that gets the hips swaying and the heart thumping. Groups like The B-Street Band, The Cameos and Total Soul know how to get Festa-goers dancing in the streets. Callahan’s Hot Dogs, Delenio’s pizza, Gia’s Gelato and Pure & Simple Flatbreads’ brick oven pizzas are just a few of the vendors offering delicious food & libations.
As the countdown to Aug. 9th begins, Holy Rosary parishioners are busily preparing their special La Festa treats like home-made Rice Balls (Arancini) and lemony Limoncello made by The Assunta Wine Girls who, this year, will also be serving Lemon-Limecello and Grapefruitcello. On the 5th and final day of La Festa (Sunday) Pastor Jurek Zaslona will pick the winner of the “Super 50/50” Raffle. (Tickets for the Super 50/50 can be purchased throughout La Festa.) Last year’s winning ticket-holder won $9,079!
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 132-year history and strengthens community ties.
“Traditions and customs define us as a community and La Festa gives us the opportunity to become a more integrated community,” Rev. Zaslona says. “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. As a church, we are here to serve the people of Jersey City.”
Entertainment this year has some real standouts for music lovers.
Wed, Aug 9 DJ Dan E Ariazza
Thurs, Aug 10 DJ Mike Greco
Fri, Aug 11 The B-Street Band
Sat, Aug 12 DJ Jude Luongo
Sun, Aug 13 DJ Dan Drake
The B-Street Band (Bruce Springsteen Cover Band) Plays Friday Night
Total Soul, the 9-piece band that plays popular tunes from Motown to Bruno Mars takes the stage Sunday night. This is their sixth year back and two of its members, guitarist Jack Broad and lead singer Derrick Dupree hail from Jersey City. Trombone player Jeff Deitrle says the band enjoys playing La Festa Italiana because it loves to get the crowds dancing in the street.
“We get everybody dancing,” Deitrle says. “Everyone knows our songs because we play the best of the best.”
HOT ZEPPOLES, ITALIAN SAUSAGE & MORE!
La Festa Italiana will be a “Foodie’s Paradise” with vendors like Maglione’s Italian Ices; Mozzareppa; VEGBAR Juice+Grub specializing in fresh vegan juices, smoothies, salads, wraps & tacos; mouth-watering Italian sausage sandwiches, Greek specialties, and delicious desserts like home-made Cannolis on sale at Caffe Italiano in Holy Rosary’s backyard.
Callahan’s Hot Dogs food truck, which sells those big, crunchy hot dogs smothered in sauerkraut and onions, will also be back. Many locals remember Callahan’s roadside hotdog haven that Leonard Castrianni opened back in 1950 in Fort Lee. Castrianni’s grandson, Daniel DeMiglio now runs the business and will be manning Callahan’s big yellow truck all five nights of La Festa. DeMiglio plans to sell Callahan’s famous hotdogs and award-winning hamburgers, and to visit his dad Ronald DeMiglio’s old “Village” neighborhood.
“It’s an incredible experience to be at La Festa Italiana and be back where my dad grew up,” Daniel DeMiglio says. “It means a lot to me to be there. This year, our big yellow Callahan’s truck will be at La Festa all five nights and we’ll be doing classic dogs and fries.”
Other ‘stars’ of La Festa are the Seafood Bar serving fresh clams & oysters, and the White Star Bar which offers craft beers & specialty cocktails. The Hourly 50/50s will be on sale throughout the five-day feast with prizes every hour. The popular Money Wheel is back in its original location in Caffe Italiano, located behind the church.
TRIDUUM & PROCESSIONS
Religious traditions are an integral aspect of La Festa Italiana, which honors the veneration of Maria SS. Dell’Assunta & San Rocco. A Triduum from Sat, Aug 12 through Tues, Aug. 15 will be celebrated in veneration of Our Lady of the Assumption and in honor of St. Rocco. On Tues., Aug. 15, at 11 am, the Feast Day Mass in veneration of Maria SS. Dell’Assunta, a holy day of obligation, will be celebrated by Joseph W. Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R., D.D., Archbishop of Newark. A traditional Street Procession will follow.
On Wed., Aug 16, at 11 am, a Feast of Saint Rocco Healing Mass with the Anointing of the Sick will be celebrated followed by a traditional Street Procession.
La Festa Italiana’s financial support comes from local sponsorship like Gold Sponsor Star Industries, and Silver Sponsors GothamWest, Monteleone’s Bakery, The Brunswick School, Nicholas J. Grillo, and Commonwealth Trucking/Fleetwood Forwarding. Diamond Sponsors are Catholic Cemeteries, Sorrentino Electric, and Yelp. Riotto Funeral Home is the Silver-Super 50/50 Raffle Sponsor.
“Holy Rosary Church and La Festa Italiana have been pillars of the Italian American Community of Jersey City,” Manager Richard J. Riotto says. “It is a testimony to the organizers and volunteers that have worked tirelessly for generations to preserve their heritage.”
La Festa Italiana is Holy Rosary Church’s special way of saying thank you to its parishioners and neighbors, as it celebrates 132 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 2017, 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.
If you go
Wed, Aug. 9-Sun, Aug. 13
(Wed-Fri, 5-11 pm; Sat & Sun, 3-11 pm)
LA FESTA ITALIANA 2017
344 Sixth St, JC