Thousands of residents and visitors descended on western Hoboken to celebrate the 109th iteration of St. Ann’s Italian Festival last week.
Children played games, spun on rides, got their faces painted, and local residents and out-of-towners feasted on sausage and peppers, gyros, BBQ, and of course the famous fried zeppoles, which always has a line of hungry customers.
The fried delicacies, which are doughy desserts cooked in hot oil and tossed with powdered sugar, were served up again by the Saint Ann Guild, who guard the recipe practically under lock and key.
The mile square tradition was centered at Seventh and Jefferson streets and festival goers also had the chance to win a 50/50 raffle or grab a brew in the beer garden set up in the church parking lot, known as the “Café Under the Stars.”
Attendees danced and listened to a variety of musical performances.
On July 24, the BStreetBand performed a tribute to the Boss, Bruce Springsteen. On July 25 the festival had a country music night for the second year in a row as Southbound performed country and classic rock. On July 26, Elio Scaccio and the Six Piece Band performed and on July 27, Shadow of the 60s performed songs by The Four Tops, Temptations, and Supremes. Finally, on July 28, the Elements performed an Earth, Wind, & Fire tribute.
While some fun seekers may not realize it, the festival is actually rooted in a religious celebration.
Hoboken’s version of the festival began in 1910 and celebrates the Novena (or nine successive days of prayer and worship) in honor of St. Ann, the Holy Mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus.
St. Ann is the patron saint of unmarried women, grandparents, mothers, pregnant women, the childless, grandmothers, horseback riders, and cabinet-makers to name a few.
The Novena consists of mass and prayer in which expectant parents, families, grandparents, engaged couples, married couples, single adults, the sick, and the deceased members of the parish and St. Ann Guild are blessed.
The Saint Ann Guild is a women’s organization dedicated to the promotion of the devotion to St. Ann.
This is one of two of the church’s societies. The other is the Holy Name Society which is a male organization committed to the promotion of Jesus and faithfulness to the church.
The Novena ends on what is known as the Feast of St. Ann that was on July 26.
This last day began with an 11 a.m. mass followed by a procession through the streets of Hoboken in which the women of the guild wheel a 600-pound statue of St. Ann on a cart.