Friday, 20 September 2013

Street Photography | NYC's San Gennaro's Feast

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
I chanced on Little Italy's San Gennaro Feast last weekend, and despite the incredibly packed crowds, I managed to make a few photographs here and there. It was lunchtime which explained the crowds moving at a snail's pace, ogling the menus of the full to capacity Italian restaurants with tables overflowing on Mulberry Street in Little Italy/Chinatown. The whole of Little Italy was blocked to traffic, so pedestrians were packed like sardines with little room to compose interesting frames.

I felt I had been transported to a filming shoot for The Sopranos, hearing exaggerated Italian American accents all around me; some inviting tourists into restaurants and others hawking mozzarella (pronounced something like 'muzarel') and cannoli, the famous Sicilian dessert. Many of those were actually waiters and restaurant staff from Mexico who occasionally whispered in Spanish to each other.

Absolutely no one cares about these details. It's here in the heart of what is left of Little Italy that the feast of San Gennaro is held every year, and which was expected to attract more than one million people from all over the world to participate in the annual Salute to the Patron Saint of Naples. Perhaps hyperbole, perhaps an overly optimistic forecast...but who knows?

A little away from the main bustle, on Mott Street, a restaurant singer was pleasing the crowd with old favorites, ranging from Domenico Modugno's Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (aka Volare) to Dean Martin's Everybody Loves Somebody. I waited for a song by the one and only Louis Prima...Just A Gigolo would've been just perfect...but I waited in vain, and anyway a woman singing anything by Louis would sound weird.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved


On Hester Street, there was a crowd gathering in front of a stall, listening to the patter of a man dressed as a boxing or wrestling referee. From what I gathered, the attraction was the presence of Bruno Sammartino, who would be performing mock matches with anyone who dared. It appears that Mr Sammartino is an Italian-born American retired professional wrestler, best known for being the longest-running champion of the World Wide Wrestling Federation. I saw no one volunteering.

Unfortunately, I won't be in NYC this weekend for the grand finale of San Gennaro's Feast. It'll be packed if last week end is any guide...I'll have to wait for next year.

For more of my New York City street photography and more, drop by The Leica File.