Shared from the 9/26/2019 Southampton Press - Western Edition eEdition

San Gennaro Feast Arrives


PRESS FILE The San Gennaro Feast of the Hamptons will be held in Hampton Bays this weekend.


John Zuccarelli is the grand marshal of the San Gennaro Feast of the Hamptons 2019.

More than 120 food vendors, live entertainment, eating contests, a classic car show and an evening of fireworks — all are in store at the ninth annual San Gennaro Feast of the Hamptons this weekend in Hampton Bays.

Admission is free to the two-day event on Saturday and Sunday, which runs concurrently with a carnival from Friday to Sunday on Good Ground Road, near the Long Island Rail Road train station.

Sunny skies are forecast, with pleasant temperatures all weekend, making for a great outdoor festival, said organizer Rick Martel, the president of the nonprofit that puts the festival on every year.

“The weather’s going to be great,” he said. “The forecast is awesome.”

San Gennaro is the patron saint of Naples, a region of Italy, and celebrations are held in his honor in September in Italy, as well as in Little Italy and The Bronx in New York City.

Organizers of the event selected Hampton Bays resident John Zuccarelli, who has lived in Hampton Bays with his wife, Valerie, since 1997, as this year’s grand marshal.

Mr. Zuccarelli, who has been a teacher for 55 years, has been a dedicated public servant since his arrival. He is a member of the Hampton Bays Beautification Association, serving as treasurer for eight years; the Hampton Bays Civic Association; was chairman of Hampton Bays Citizens Advisory Committee; a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 18-03, serving as flotilla commander and vessel examiner; the Irish American Society of the Hamptons; the Italian American Society of the Hamptons; St. Rosalie’s Church, where he is a member of the Gala Committee; and the Good Ground Park Association.

“It was an unexpected honor,” Mr. Zuccarelli said this week. “I want to thank the committee for choosing me.”

Mr. Zuccarelli, who has both Italian and Irish roots, said the festival demonstrates the positive effect immigration has had on the United States over time. “The Italians did a lot for our country, as did others,” he said, noting that he is a big supporter of legal immigration.

Currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk County Community College, Mr. Zuccarelli will be introduced and blessed Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.

The overall goal of the feast is to raise money for local nonprofits, Mr. Martel said, noting that nearly all the money raised over the weekend is donated to organizations like Maureen’s Haven, the Coalition for Women’s Cancers, as well as other area charities, as well as funding a handful of college scholarships for area students.

“We do encourage our local nonprofits to come,” Mr. Martel said, noting that the organizations are provided reduced rate or free booths in the vendor area.

The festival offers nonstop live music on stage on Saturday, from noon to 9 p.m., and on Sunday, from noon to 8 p.m. Music includes Italian classic singers, a doo-wop group, a Motown group and more contemporary rockand-roll.

“There’s a little something for everyone,” Mr. Martel said. “We put a lot of effort into that.”

Sprinkled throughout the musical lineup will be a cannoli-eating contest on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., a pizza-eating contest on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., a zepole-eating contest on Sunday at 2:15 p.m., and a meatball-eating contest on Sunday at 3:45 p.m.

The Fireworks by Grucci show will begin on Saturday at 8:15 p.m., and a raffle to win a Fiat will be held at 5:45 p.m. on Sunday.

For those worried about parking, paid valet parking will be available for the first time this year, although Mr. Martel could not say what it would cost. “Parking can be an issue anywhere,” he said, “Southampton, Sag Harbor, even Hampton Bays. Now you don’t have to worry about it.”

The festival is located right in front of the Hampton Bays train station on Good Ground Road.

Mr. Martel said he was extremely excited about the upcoming feast, and said all the hard work the organizers put into the event are worth it in the end. “Every year, we get bigger and bigger,” he said.

For the San Gennaro novice who has never attended the feast, he offered sage advice:

“Buy the food of your choice from a vendor, and then just find a spot by the stage and relax,” he said. “Everything is free. You don’t have to spend a dime to have a great time.”

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