Delicious Italian food, lively dance music and traditional delicacies like fresh hot zeppoles, rice balls and lemony Limoncello are just some of the fun treats ahead as Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City prepares for its 111th annual La Festa Italiana, an Old World Italian feast honoring the veneration of Maria SS. Dell'Assunta & San Rocco.
La Festa Italiana 2014 begins Wed, Aug. 13th and runs through Sun, Aug. 17th, and for those five evenings 6th & Brunswick Streets in Jersey City will transform into five beautiful summer nights filled with lively music, stand-up comedy, games of chance, kids' activities, and delicious Italian food and libations.
Pastor of Holy Rosary Church, the Rev. Jerzy (Jurek) Zaslona, who actively participates in the festivities, looks forward to La Festa Italiana every year because it strengthens community ties.
"Since coming to Holy Rosary, I do thoroughly enjoy this five-night feast," Rev. Zaslona says. "I love people, so La Festa gives me an opportunity to gather with people of the community and have fun enjoying each other's company. It is a joy for me to see that as a church, we can serve the people of Jersey City, encouraging them to mingle and become a stronger and more integrated community."
La Festa Italiana promises to be extra-special when on Saturday night, stand-up comedian "Uncle Floyd" takes to the stage to perform his special brand of comedy. Uncle Floyd, who had a cable comedy show in the 1980s and 1990s, and who performs regularly in Atlantic City, is of Italian dissent and says he has a fondness for La Festa Italiana because he used to go to the feast with his grandmother when he was a boy.
"I love Holy Rosary's La Festa Italiana," Uncle Floyd says. "I look forward to it. It has charm, the church is beautiful and I'm looking forward to a zeppole, a torrone, and the rice balls. The aroma of the food pulls you in. La Festa Italiana is good for the neighborhood and the church, and it's a big part of Jersey City history."
Uncle Floyd shares the stage Saturday night with The Cameos, a popular oldies band and regulars at La Festa Italiana. This year's entertainment, sponsored by BGT Enterprises in Jersey City, features music for all generations. Here's the schedule:
Wed, Aug. 13: The B Street Band
Thurs, Aug. 14: Everybody's Everything
Fri, Aug 15: Total Soul
Sat, Aug. 16: The Cameos; Uncle Floyd
Sun, Aug. 17: Jersey Sound
"As prominent local developers, we strive to support and serve the community we work in," Ben G. Torrei, Managing Partner of BGT Enterprises, says. "We are honored to sponsor the entertainment for the 111th annual La Festa Italiana and we hope everyone enjoys it."
La Festa Italiana has other sponsors, too: Banner Sponsors are Silverman Properties, and Ben LoPiccolo Development Group; Site Sponsor is Introcaso-Angelo Funeral Home; and the "Super 50/50" Sponsor is Tony Ferrara & Associates. This year's vendors will include Gia's Gelato and Pastry Cafe, Delenio restaurant, and the bar & restaurant White Star. Other stars of La Festa Italiana are Holy Rosary's "Famous Wine & Peaches," the home-made lemon liqueur Limoncello, Hourly 50/50s, the popular Money Wheel, and Caffe Italiano where church members serve home-made pastries.
On Friday, Aug. 15th, the Holy Rosary School Alumni Reunion Night brings together classmates throughout the years who will mix and mingle in the Holy Rosary Parish Center. Former students of Ferris High School are invited to meet up at the All-Year Ferris High School Reunion Night on Saturday, Aug 16th, also in the Holy Rosary Parish Center.
A highlight of La Festa Italiana is the "Super 50/50" drawing to be held on Sunday, Aug. 17th at 11 pm. Last year's winner took home more than $12,000.
For many years, La Festa Italiana has been the church's biggest fundraiser for the restoration and upkeep of the church. During La Festa Italiana 2014, the church will be open to parishioners and guests who can see up close the magnificent beauty that is Holy Rosary Church.
Religious traditions are another important highlight of La Festa Italiana with Feast Day Masses offered on Aug. 15th and 16th to honor the veneration of Maria SS. Dell'Assunta and San Rocco; and a daily Novena celebrated from Aug. 6th - 14th. On Aug. 15th, the Assumption Feast Day Mass will be celebrated with the Most Reverend Bernard A. Hebda, Coadjutor Archbishop of Newark; and the Most Reverend Thomas A. Donato, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark, On Aug. 16th, the St. Rocco Feast Day Mass will be celebrated. Both Masses are at 11 am, and followed by traditional street processions.
"Traditions and customs define us as a community," Rev. Zaslona says. "As a country we have traditions and customs that are recognized and embraced by those who come here; the same with our traditions as a church. People like to become part of established traditions, therefore, it is important to cultivate and cherish these traditions for generations to come."
La Festa Italiana is Holy Rosary Church's special way of saying thanks to its parishioners and neighbors, and celebrates 129 years of serving the spiritual needs of its parish and the Historic Downtown community.
"La Festa impacts the community by integrating old and new members of the community," Fr. Jurek says. "Since the beginning of time, it's human nature that brings people together to eat, drink and dance. La Festa does that for the people of Jersey City. It introduces the church to the community and those who may be searching for a new spiritual home."
PLEASE NOTE: Editors, reporters, photographers and TV crews interested in covering La Festa Italiana 2014, please call 201-776-9222 or 201-795-0120 to schedule interviews, or for more information.
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