A neighborhood celebration for 91 years, over the past 40 years, the St. Anthony’s Feast has grown from year to year almost without pause.
What was once something exclusive to the residents of the North End who were largely Italian many years ago, has become the one event of the year in the neighborhood which transcends all others in size and impact.
What was once a neighborhood event has become a citywide celebration, an event of immense size that attracts tens of thousands not just from Boston but from the suburbs.
Some of us who are older now can recall our parents taking us to the North End for the feast in the early 1960’s, when the nation was a far different place than it is today – when the North End had a far different panache than it does today.
Today, the North End has become three communities.
It is a vibrant and bustling restaurant based business neighborhood, sharing a small and crowded space with the young and newly rich living in condominiums, who have come lately and with the old-timers, whose families have been here since the 1920’s.
So the old mixes with the new and rich with the not so rich and the businesspeople with everyone else.
The feast throws everything out of whack for a few nights.
The North End becomes so crowded, so densely populated, so active and alive that it is hard to believe considering what came before.
The St. Anthony’s Feast of the 1960’s has changed dramatically in scope and size.
The growth began dramatically as the city changed dramatically.
What went from totally local and crowded has gone to all-inclusive and mobbed.
We expect the feast to attract perhaps the largest crowd in its long and distinguished history this weekend.
Mind you, even during the 1960’s it was a crawl for everyone who attended to go from one end of Endicott Street to the other.
The only difference was that back then there more private clubs, more North Enders and their families setting up on the sidewalks. There was no carnival atmosphere – no games for kids.
That being said, this weekend’s St. Anthony’s Feast is one of Boston’s great wonders from year to year.
It is the North End’s signature event which highlights the end of summer.
See you there.