The San Gennaro Feast
Las Vegas, NV
Pope Blesses Las Vegas and The San Gennaro Feast
Anthony Palmisano has been blessed - literally. Pope John Paul II has issued a special apostolic blessing, a "pledge of divine protection", to the Las Vegas promoter and his Italian food festival and street fair, the San Gennaro Feast. This year's feast, the 22nd annual, will take place September 11th through the 15th at Flamingo and Valley View, adjacent to the new Palms Casino Resort. The event features live entertainment, delicious food and exciting midway rides and games in a safe, neighborhood-like environment. Both the feast and the papal blessing are part of a multi-generation Palmisano family tradition, a love affair with Italy.
Anthony was introduced to the Italian festival business by his late uncle, Vincent Palmisano, who himself received a blessing from Pope Paul VI. At age 11, Anthony began his career with Vincent as a guide and mentor. He learned "hands-on" from his uncle and his uncle's friends who were pioneers of the festival business in Miami, Florida and in Anthony's hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. He developed a deep appreciation for his Italian heritage. He also learned about San Gennaro.
Gennaro was a bishop of Benevento, Italy during the 4th century A.D., a time when Christians were persecuted. While comforting prisoners, he was arrested and ultimately beheaded. His remains were enshrined in Naples, where he is revered as the city's protector and patron saint. Two vials containing his blood are closely watched and twice a year, the congealed contents miraculously liquefy, signifying good fortune for the city.
During the fifth and seventh centuries A.D., the city of Naples was threatened by the volcanic eruptions of Mount Vesuvius. The intercession of San Gennaro, also known as Saint Januarius, was sought and the city was spared. In 685, the grateful citizens instituted an annual feast to honor their protector and give thanks to God.
This custom took root in New York's Little Italy in 1926 among Italian immigrants and the event soon became popular with people of all nationalities. Vincent Palmisano brought the San Gennaro Feast to Las Vegas in 1980 and here, as in New York, La Festa Di Tutte Le Feste, "the feast of all feasts", has been embraced by the entire community. Last year Anthony Palmisano established "Little Italy Las Vegas" on the site of the San Gennaro Feast at Flamingo and Valley View. Plans are underway to erect permanent structures that recreate the old world in new Las Vegas.
"My family has always had a strong connection to San Gennaro," states Anthony. "When we honor the saint, we honor our history and culture as well. It's important to me to preserve our traditions. I've done other kinds of festivals, but in working for the saint I know I've found my calling and not only myself, but the people working with me have been blessed with good fortune."
Father Dave Cassaleggio will open the 22nd annual San Gennaro Feast with a procession and a blessing of the event and the vendors. Traditionally, people seeking the favor of the saint attach money to his statue. Monies collected in this way will be donated to Catholic Charities.
For more information, contact Anthony Palmisano at (702) 286-4944.