Fun in the sun

La Festa Italiana a success despite grueling heat

Holy Rosary celebrated its 113th Italian Festival downtown last week near Sixth and Brunswick streets despite the threat of thunder showers. Crowds sampled fine food and listened to good music while at the same time paying homage to the Feast of the Assumption, one of the more important holidays in the Roman Catholic calendar.

The festival concludes on Aug. 16 after an Assumption Feast Day Mass on Aug. 15. The mass in part will honor the memory of Bishop Thomas Donato, who passed away last year.

While there were a number of new faces at the festival this year, many of those who worked some of the booths have been here for generations. Louisa DeBella, grinning despite the 90-plus degree heat, said she’s been making zeppoles for the festival for 40 years.

“I started in 1985,” she said.

The festival is one of the main summer events drawing people and politicians from around the city and beyond – although many civic groups participate the festival or merely spread cheer.

Nicholas J. Grillo, one of the festival volunteers, has already declared his intention to run for City Council next year, but spent most of his time this week working on the festival.

The festival started in 1902 as an Italian celebration, but has since changed to reflect the changing population of that part of Jersey City.

“Once this is over, I can concentrate on the campaign,” he said.

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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