Sunday, July 20, 2008

Heat, No Humidity, and Saint Ann

July 20, 2008
It was a beautiful day, if you can stand temps in the 90's. Humidity levels of 29 to 39 are still unbelievable to this body of mine, so acclimated to the swampy heat of the deep Alabama South. I started my pilgrimage early (too early;I left the apartment at noon looking for an event that didn't start until 7 P.M.), and ended up at my destination twice. The first time it was just being set up.

The morning trip just about did me in, even without humidity. It was so hot I thought I'd die, dragging along the sidewalks looking for a spot of shade to cross into as I made my way across town toward the beautiful St. Ann's church which was to be having its annual party. I made the mistake of calling it a "festival" and was quickly corrected by a native (or B & R as they call themselves here). It's a feast, said she, don't call it a festival. Gotcha.

The biggest gotcha was that I misunderstood the time and had to make a second trip as evening came.

The warm night breezes wafted the fragrance of food my way as I walked toward the feast. Sausages, pasta in tomato sauce, and zeppoli being deep fried wove together in a blanket for the nose. The sounds of a crowd, and a voice on the steps of the church was miked out for the crowds sitting there with plates of food, sitting in couples, visiting, and half-listening to the message of doing God's work in today's world.
The sun set as the lights went up on the little stage across from the church. People visited and stood in line for zeppoli. Families and couples and a few strays like me meandered through the booths, finding the odd Jimmy Roselli CD in a rack. (I confess it was Jerry Vale's voice being piped in the air and that for a minute I thought I was listening to Roselli.)

Somebody was selling spinakopita and I almost talked myself into buying one with the rationalization that "at least it has spinach in it; it's good for you." I decided instead to wait in the line ("on line," they say here) for a small paper bag of zeppoli -- three for $2, can't beat that price -- just to get in the spirit of the event.

I came home convinced I had walked off the calories by having walked there and back twice in the same day that I ate the zeppolis. And felt comparatively virtuous because I saved one for my coffee this morning.

St. Ann's Day is next weekend, where they'll have a Mass, a procession, and more food.


downtown girl said...

It's an important feast, if you've never been. I can't imagine paying the rents they pay in that neighborhood and having that much noise all night long. Also, walk into the parking lot & watch the young 'uns down their beers. Easily 3 deep.

Go back in the bright sun of day & see what a mess the streets are. The Church is gorgeous. VERY ornate. Funny thing about that Church & St. Francis. One on 7th & Adam the other 3rd. & Jeff. Equidistant. I know of two sisters in their late 70s they live together on 5th & Madison. One goes to St. Francis the other to St. Anne...go figure. I can tell you -- drop the diet!! The zeppoli are a must. Gotta wait on line for about 6 months, but they are worth it.

When I took my AA friend, I insisted she try the deep fried Oreos. She said she was never going to talk to me again. That is another must do.

Mary Lois said...

Deep fried Oreos? Doesn't even sound good to me. Did you know the Brits swear by deep fried Mars bars? Really! Wonder if they put chocolate sauce on them...

Downtown Chick said...

It was two years ago that I discovered deep fried Oreos. Sounded disgusting to me. So......I bought ONE......he gave me FOUR.......that was the beginning of the end. Don't knock it till you try it. Downtown Chick not downtown girl. Jeeez.
I'm glad you went to the feast. I'm going to google or wikipedia why feast and not festival. If someone knows, please post. Thanks.

slezak said...

the Oreo cookie was invented in Hoboken...I bet Downtown Chick never knew that...I got married in St Ann's. My wife's two cousens were priests there, Fr. Leopole and Fr. Camilius protomastro. Their dad owned SNIDERS MEN'S STORE on First and Washington Street. They both married us, in 1961.

You don't mention the fireworks ...did they stop doing that??? I'm glad you got a Jimmy Roselli cd. Money well spent. HE HAS A VOICE OF AN ANGEL.

Yes it was hot there...but that is all part of the fun of being at the feast...IT WAS A GREAT HOBOKEN DAY ....welcome to Hoboken, THE PARIS OF AMERICA.

A deep fried oreo??? I have to think about that...

Alex said...

Nice photos Mary Lois. I'll have to make it to the feast one day this week.

Slezak said...

Glad you enjoyed the St. Ann's feast. but I wished you'd seen it in the 50s.

It was twice the size then...they had GAMING tables -- put your dime on a number, they spin the wheel. If ya got lucky ya went home with a pocket full of dimes!

FIREWORKS in the street...big fireworks lit up all of downtown...a parade and lots of live music...and the food was cheap! SURE, they made a mess, SO WHAT? IT WAS THE FEAST, time to celebrate ST. ANN....

...too bad some of the newcomers think it's too noisy, and don't like it. If they get their way NO MORE FEAST.

Mary Lois said...

I haven't heard any complaints about the feast -- don't think it's going to come to an end. It's a beautiful tradition, and we still have old families left.

And the feast continues until next weekend. Maybe they'll wind up with a big fireworks display.

Anonymous said...

Years ago they used to have three feasts in Hoboken. In one of them they would set off a whole block of firecrackers all at once. Smoke up the whole block and a band would march all thru Hoboken. There were maybe six to eight men playing in the band, all brass.
I think everyone who went to the feast put on a couple of pounds, eating all that good food.
Yes, I do miss somethings about Hoboken and some........ well we won't talk about that.

downtown chick said...

That particular feast is now the Italian-American Festival and is still held early September at Sinatra Park. They no longer shoot fireworks in the street. The food is still great street-food. BTW: the ONLY places they shot those fireworks were in front of the homes of people who paid to have it done. The "festival" is called La Festa dela Madonna dei Martieri. The Madonna of the Marters. Anyone who wants to know more about this interesting tradition should show up at St. Francis Church, 3rd. & Jefferson at the beginning of September & listen to the homily Fr. Mike gives about the history of this Italian Custom. Now, they take the statue, march her up to the river, put her on a ferry so she can bless the fleet and take her back to St. Francis Church. THEN we have fireworks, in St. Francis parking lot under supervision of Fire Dept. This is an old custom which still goes on in Molfetta, Italy. If Cap'n Chas. will respond.......he used to go to Italy every year to watch the saint be put into the water.
I think it's the best Feast Hoboken has.

Sheila C. said...

St. Anne was the mother of the Blessed Mary, making her the patron saint of mothers and children.

The St. Anne's feast has certainly taken on new meaning over the years. It is now, to all the newcomers to Hoboken, a "Festival."
Somewhere you could go on a hot summer night to wait on line for zeppoles, drink beer, and listen to the earsplitting bands they put on stage outside of St. Ann's Church.

But to us who grew up in Hoboken. We know the true meaning of this very special Feast of St. Anne.

All during the feast, if you took a moment to stop inside of St. Anne's Church, you would find the statue of St. Anne on the right side of the alter, surrounded by lit candles of all who came to pray before her. People also leave 'messages' on small slips of paper, and since St. Anne is the patron saint of mothers and children, many of these messages hold prayers for either mothers or children who are ill, or prayers from those who are trying to conceive.

But the most important day of this week long feast is the actual St. Anne's Day, the last day of the feast. For that is when St. Anne is adorned with her blue robe (That is COVERED in jewelry that people have donated over the years as their sacrifice to her), and paraded through the streets of Hoboken. The statue is very heavy, but it is an honor to be chosen to be one of those who carry her through the streets.

I wasn't able to make it down to Hoboken this year for St. Anne's Day, but I remember how, as she is carried through the streets she is followed by hundreds of people, most of them mothers, and children.
Every few blocks the procession would stop (probably to give those carrying the statue a rest!), and fireworks would be set off before the statue would begin to make her way through the streets once again.

Following the statue of St. Anne through the streets of Hoboken was a very special thing to do. Much more special than standing on line for something to eat or drink.

It's just another one of those memories of the old Hoboken that I remember, and one that I will never forget.