Although it’s been a tough year, Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City is thrilled to announce the return of La Festa Italiana for its 117th year. A community tradition like no other, La Festa will rock Jersey City’s Historic Downtown with five nights of live bands, yummy eats, and rides and games for the whole family.
Starting Wednesday, Aug. 11, and running through Sunday, Aug. 15, from 5 pm-to-11 pm each night, the streets surrounding Holy Rosary Church on 6th & Brunswick will transform into a fun-filled block party of vendors selling fabulous ethnic dishes, popular bands playing Top-40 dance hits, and rides and games that will give kids happy memories to last a lifetime. Co-Chairman and La Festa’s emcee Nick Grillo says festival goers can look forward to a great time and the chance to meet up with friends and family they haven’t seen in a while.
“We’ve all been through a lot the past year as individuals and a society as a whole,” Grillo says. “I firmly believe we need to get back to socializing as a community again. After all, La Festa brings together the best of Jersey City—our diversity.”
Chairman Grillo added that the festival will follow CDC guidelines with a cleaning crew to disinfect tables and other surfaces throughout the run of the festival.
Rocking Tunes & Dancing in the Streets
The entertainment roster for this year’s La Festa Italiana is a Who’s Who of musical talent guaranteed to excite festival goers of all ages. Opening night, Wed, Aug 11: THE COUNTERFEITERS; Thurs, Aug 12: FAITH IN CHAOS; Fri, Aug 13: TOGA PARTY BAND; Sat, Aug 14: THE CAMEOS; and on closing night, Sun, Aug 15: TOTAL SOUL; and every night DJ CARLY will play music at Caffe Italiano. Total Soul’s bandleader Jeff Dieterle says this summer, the nine-piece band will pull out all the stops with new singer Emily Lucas, and new tunes like “Levitating” by Dua Lipa. “It’s a hot song, and Total Soul will have everybody levitating,” Dieterle says. “We’ll be playing songs by The Four Tops, Temptations, Michael Jackson, and more.”
A Foodie’s Paradise
La Festa Italiana will be “A Foodie’s Paradise” with Food Trucks like Dellano’s/ Anna Maria’s Italian sausage sandwiches, gyros and shish kebabs. Crowd favorite Maize Arepa returns, along with White Star Bar offering craft beers & specialty cocktails. New this year, Linda and Sean Kerly of the Box Café on Palisade Avenue will offer delicious sandwiches like the Garlic Lemon Shrimp, and Roast Beef Tenderloin on Ciabatta bread. The Kerly family are members of Holy Rosary Church and their son, Varick, was baptized by Fr. Jurek. “The parish is welcoming,” she says. “That’s how we felt when we showed up. Everyone embraces everyone else, from young to old.”
Jersey City Firefighter Kevin Hennessey, owner of O’Leary’s Publik House on Garfield Avenue, will host the Wine & Peaches booth, this year. “We’re excited to be part of La Festa,” Hennessey says. “It’s just a lot of fun.”
As La Festa’s Opening Day draws near, church parishioners are busily preparing Italian specialties that attract festival goers, year-after-year. Treats like Zeppoles showered in powdered-sugar, and Rice Balls (Arancini) drizzled with tomato gravy always wow the crowds. At Caffe Italiano, Holy Rosary’s Church Ladies will sell freshly made cookies, cakes, cannoli, pies, coffee and tea. Hourly and Super 50/50 raffle tickets will be on sale throughout the five-day festival, and the popular Money Wheel will be in the backyard opposite Caffe Italiano.
La Festa Sponsors
La Festa Italiana, a 501© (3) entity, is grateful for the vital financial support of our Gold, Silver and Diamond Sponsors. Our Gold Sponsors are Ziggy’s Auto Body and Murray Paving & Concrete. Silver Sponsors include Riotto Funeral Home, Panepinto Properties, Key Foods Fresh & Natural, Dante Alighieri Society, ARCO Roofing, Gotham West Development, Commonwealth/Fleetwood Trucking, and Inserra Supermarkets. Diamond Sponsors are Nicky Grillo—Levandoski-Grillo Funeral Home, The Ambriola Cheese Company, Commercial District Services, Sorrentino Electric, and Monteleone’s Bakery. Al Cupo, president of the Jersey City Chapter of the Dante Alighieri Society says the society is proud to sponsor La Festa this year. Cupo says he goes to La Festa every year for the camaraderie: “My kids come with me. We come for the rice balls, the sausage sandwiches, a little vino. It’s like coming back home. It’s a tradition.”
“Traditions and customs define us as a community,” the Very Rev. Pastor Jerzy “Jurek” R. Zaslona of Holy Rosary Church says. “La Festa gives us the opportunity to become a more integrated community. 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. We are here to serve the people of Jersey City.”
Triduum, Feast Day Masses and Procession
On Aug. 12, 13, 14, Holy Rosary Church will hold the Assumption & St. Rocco Triduum. On Sun, Aug. 15, at 11 am, the Feast Day Mass venerating Maria SS. Dell’Assunta and San Rocco – a holy day of obligation – will be celebrated, followed by the traditional Street Procession where statues of Maria SS. Dell’Assunta and San Rocco are carried through the streets of Holy Rosary’s neighborhood as a blessing to the Downtown Jersey City community. The San Rocco Feast Day Healing Mass will be offered on Mon, Aug. 16, at 11 am. Fr. Jurek, who serves as Dean of the Deanery, along with clergy of the Deanery, will offer Mass.
Founded in 1885, Holy Rosary Church is the first Italian Roman Catholic Parish in New Jersey; and La Festa Italiana is Holy Rosary’s special way of saying thank you to its parishioners and neighbors. The Church will be open for visitors to see up-close the magnificent beauty that is Holy Rosary Church. Visitors are invited to donate a 7-day Memorial Candle in Memory of/or in Honor of a loved one.
For more information, please call us at (201) 795-0120 or (201) 776-9222, or visit our website: www.lafestajc.com; our Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/lafestaitalianajc; and our Instagram page, @lafestaitaliana. Editors, reporters, and photographers please call 201-776-9222 or 201-795-0120.