After a virtual celebration last year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic the St. Anthony Society announced that the century-old St. Anthony’s Feast will return to the North End this year for an in-person celebration at the end of August.
Each year the people of the North End celebrate with friends, neighbors and tourists to honor their patrons Saint Anthony and Saint Lucy with colorful parades, religious services, strolling singers, live entertainment and of course an abundance of great Italian and American food.
The feast began in 1919 by Italian immigrants from the small town of Montefalcione in Avellino and has become the largest Italian Religious Festival in New England and was named the “Feast of all Feasts” by National Geographic Magazine.
“We are very excited to be back to celebrate family, community and this North End tradition as we celebrate our patron Saint once more in the streets of our neighborhood..” said St. Anthony Society Trustee Jason Aluia. “Last year we hosted a virtual celebration with cooking demonstrations with instructions, recipes, where to buy the food but it is going to be good to be back.”
This year’s 102 St. Anthony’s Feast will run from Thursday, August 26 through Sunday, August 29.
“With most of the COVID restrictions being lifted it’ll be more of the traditional feast people remember,” said Aluia. “ We met with city officials last week and we will meet with them again as we get closer to the dates. We might add additional health protocols like hand sanitizing stations around the feast and we’ll be working with our vendors on different health protocols but we’re going full speed ahead like it was a regular post-COVID feast.”
On Saturday, the St. Anthony Feast’s annual Mass will be dedicated to St. Anthony Society Past President Jerry Moretti, who passed away in February. Moretti was a longtime member of St. Anthony’s Society and organizer of the annual North End feast in the North End. Those who knew Moretti remember him always filled with joy and pride during the feast and loved being with his family and friends in one place.
“Jerry was close to all of us at the St. Anthony Society so we will be dedicating the Saturday Mass in his memory,” said Aluia.
Each year before the pandemic visitors to the North End during the St. Anthony’s Feast stroll the beautifully decorated streets sampling the best Italian street foods from 100 push carts–enjoying arancini, sausage peppers & onion, quahogs, calamari, pizza, pasta and of course zeppole, cannoli and gelato.
The highlight of the Feast is the ten hour procession of the Statue of Saint Anthony through the streets of the North End accompanied by devotees, numerous marching bands and floats. The Statue of the Saint returns to his chapel as confetti and streamers cascade from the rooftops.
“You know, obviously, we are all very excited,” said Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, who is a member of St. Anthony Society. “You know we got a lot of makeup to do in terms of celebrating–celebrating the society, celebrating the neighborhood and celebrating a somewhat return to normal after the pandemic. Our goal this year is to obviously create a friendly and safe environment as we always do this year.”
When asked if St. Anthony’s Feast is the best feast in the North End, Michlewitz said he loves all the celebrations during feast season in the North End.
“But as a member of St. Anthony Society, and as a kid who grew up on the St. Anthony side of the neighborhood I’m obviously a little biased on this discussion,” he joked.