Hoboken Italian Festival

hobokenI was going to come up with a catchy title for this event, one that would show how literate and witty I could be, with a cute pop culture reference or maybe a jab at the upcoming election. Then I thought to myself, WWVD. That is “What Would Vinnie Do,” Vinnie being a guy I grew up with who could smell sausage and peppers from a mile away and could hear the sounds of a parade and a “feast” all the way from Brooklyn. He’d say, “What? It’s Italian, it’s a festival, you know what you gonna get – food, fun and I’m sure Theresa and Francine will be lookin’ good.”
That’s Vinnie. He liked the girls.

But as I thought about it, I realized he was 100% correct. The Hoboken Italian Festival sounded just right. Sub-titled “Feast of the Madonna Dei Martiri.” So if you don’t know, now you know. It happens in the lovely former seaport town of Hoboken, home to one of the greatest Italians of them all, Mr. (bow your head) Frank Sinatra. For the 90th Anniversary of the festival it’s so big they couldn’t do it in one day. So from Thursday, September 8 to Sunday, September 11, the streets of Hoboken will be filled with revelers of all races, creeds and colors. This feast brings New Jersey together.

A little bit of history…for starters, it did not originate in Hoboken.
The tradition of the Madonna Dei Martiri goes back many years. It was in the year 1399, on the orders of the King of Napoli, Ladislao di Durazzo that the Street Festival and Religious celebration were first combined to celebrate the “Miracle” and blessings of the Madonna. This celebration is traditionally held on September 8, which is the Universal Feast of the Nativity of Mary. I can’t say for sure if they had zeppoles in 1399, but I’m sure they ate pretty well.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of the weekend will be the procession, where the 800lb statue of the Madonna Dei Martiri or Madonna of the Martyrs is carried through the streets of Hoboken alongside floats and musicians and children wearing brightly-colored costumes as the throngs of onlookers shout and encourage them.
Some of the local Italian musical acts performing are well known to the area. There’s Johnny Maggio, the Giglio Band, Two Gents and a Lady featuring Elio Scaccio, Vincent Ricciardi and Julie Anna Gulenko (Gulenko. How’d she slip in there?).
On Sunday the Garden State 20-piece Jazz Orchestra will perform followed by the Rosa Tatuata Sicilian Band (you better like them).
Two additional highlights will be the Saturday night fireworks display and my personal favorite, “Hoboken’s Finest vs. Hoboken’s Bravest as the police and fire departments square off in a grape stomping contest. Madonne!
So if you don’t know, now you know.

September 8 – 11
The Streets of Hoboken

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