San Gennaro party returns to Little Italy as vendors take COVID precautions – CBS New York
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The 95th annual San Gennaro party kicked off in Little Italy on Thursday after COVID-19 canceled the event last year.
The beloved tradition brings thousands of people to the narrow streets of Little Italy, but the 11-day party begins as city health officials investigate whether another outdoor festival has sparked a COVID cluster.
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“Sausage and peppers, cannoli. I love it here, ”said Judy Gerona, Marine Park resident.
“We missed it [last year]. but this year we had a blast, got there a little early, enjoyed the openness and came home with Ferrara’s, ”Long Island resident Ralph Serignese told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
Partiers and vendors filled Mulberry Street for the food, music and fun festival celebrating Italian culture. But everything is being done with caution because of the coronavirus, reported CBS2’s Thalia Perez.
Watch Thalia Perez’s report –
“It feels good. It’s really good that things are getting back to normal a bit and for us to be outside and celebrate and do regular things for New Yorkers,” said Alexis Singh of the Bronx.
Selling Italian pastries at the festival is a family tradition for Jennifer Aquilino and her mother, Nancy Rimesso, which started over 36 years ago.
“My grandfather came from Italy. He started back then, he was doing zeppole, ”Aquilino said.
Being together means so much more this year. Rimesso was sick with COVID-19 last year and spent 10 weeks on a ventilator in intensive care.
“We are very excited. We lost last year, but we have to keep the tradition going. Life must continue. You have to bring New York back to life and this is the perfect way to do it, ”said Aquilino.
With renewed concerns about the virus spreading among crowds, many vendors have said they are taking extra precautions.
“If we wear a mask, we have a certain social distance. We wish well, ”said Michael Darouiche.
” We put [acrylic barriers], and most sellers have done that too. I try to keep a little distance, ”said Bruno Donato.
“We’re out there and New York City has not placed any restrictions on us,” said salesperson Danny Fratta.
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Meanwhile, the city’s health department is investigating 16 cases of COVID-19 that have been linked to the Electric Zoo music festival on Randall’s Island over the Labor Day weekend.
Participants had to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result.
“We are all vaccinated. We feel more secure, ”said Susan Serignese, a Long Island resident.
The sellers have said that the latter cluster is definitely on their minds. It is therefore the resumption of business.
“The feast of San Gennaro is not just an affair. It’s a tradition, ”said Donato. “Many of us vendors and locals here look forward to seeing each other every year.”
Everyone agreed that they would like to see this festival season end on a high note despite their concerns over COVID.
“We have disinfection stations. All salespeople wear gloves. Almost everyone without a mask has been vaccinated, ”said Vivian Catenaccio, president of the San Gennaro Festival.
The feast of San Gennaro runs until September 26.
Meanwhile, in an effort to continue to bring the city back to life, Upper Manhattan restaurants offered vaccines with $ 100 vouchers Thursday night on the eve of an expected vote from the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the FDA on whether to recommend a third dose of Pfizer for the general population.
The Biden administration is pushing for a third dose, but the FDA has yet to take a final position, saying data shows all currently licensed vaccines still protect against serious COVID illness and death.
“I think the White House message served to terrify the vaccinated and trick the unvaccinated into believing that vaccines don’t work. And that is exactly what the White House did not want to send a message, ”said Dr Monica Gandhi.
Mayor Bill de Blasio says if FDA gives the green light for recalls, city will set up 1,900 vaccination sites in five boroughs, 25 city-sponsored sites to prepare for increased demand and events awareness raising, including sending emails to eligible people.
The city says priority for recalls will be given to the elderly and immunocompromised. It is not known whether the mandates of the vaccines will be extended to include boosters.
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Thalia Perez of CBS2 contributed to this report.