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The San Gennaro Feast: Reverence that Feeds the Arts and the Senses

Updated: Jun 25

Photos and written by Isabel M. Castro

“The San Gennaro Feast is a family event that honors our patron saint by presenting a procession and an all-encompassing community tribute. We offer the best food, music, dances, entertainment, art, and culture locally and internationally.” -President Anthony Palmisano, San Gennaro Feast.


Reverence Through Art and Culture


A warm, bright, sunny weekend was the ideal backdrop to the bi-annual San Gennaro Feast on the premises of the M Resort. This year marked its 44th year of production, and it has welcomed millions of festival-goers since 1980. Historically, it is considered the largest celebration in honor of this beloved patron saint of Naples, Italy. Neapolitan folklore holds that this martyred saint is one they can appeal to for help with any need or emergency and that he is the patron of Italians wherever they are in the world.


During this festival, each day is curated by numerous highlights that include traditional Italian foodways, which are amazingly featured along with other international favorites represented by a variety of over 90 international restaurants and food vendors, from grab-and-go snacks to a wide variety of exceptional à la carte dishes, many handcrafted from traditional family recipes. Adding to the lively atmosphere, live music, celebrity headliner singers, dancers can be enjoyed throughout the day, along with thrilling amusement rides. As the evening draws in, showcase acts from Italy and the Las Vegas Strip are presented and enjoyed.

Over 50 local artisans and crafters from a cross-section of the community displayed their wares, offering one-of-a-kind gifts at affordable prices. Hundreds of unique items included casual clothing, beautiful multicolored wind sculptures, airbrushed pop art paintings, and religious artifacts like medals and amulets. A shop that delighted the senses was the aromatic, handcrafted hanging roped fruit potpourri and sensual scented oils—all crafted with exceptional care. Although the arts and crafts were exceptional and there was something for everyone, there was a beautiful silver monstrance at the center of the entrance and a unique gold bust of Saint Gennaro, both prominently displayed for people to pay their respects.


Three Generations of Family Legacy and Tradition


This contemporary San Gennaro Feast celebratory tradition can be traced to Anthony Palmisano’s great-grandfather, Giuseppe Palmisano, who immigrated from Termini Imerese Sicily via Ellis Island and moved to Mulberry Street in 1903 in New York City. Giuseppe’s son, Vincent Jimmy D. Palmisano (Anthony's Great Uncle), started the San Gennaro Feast on Mulberry Street in New York City, then took it to Florida in the 1970s, then brought it to Las Vegas in 1980, where it has remained. It was held at the Italian American Club in Las Vegas, and in the early years, the festival was hosted and entertained by many renowned celebrity headliners such as Tony Sacca, Pat Cooper, Ernest Borgnine, Jerry Vale, Liberace, and Frankie Avalon. Additionally 1989, Alicia Velgos-Maltbie, a Las Vegas native, was crowned Miss San Gennaro and later became a Hollywood actress. She remains active with the feast by serving as a role model and inspiring new generations to take pride, value their traditions, and pursue their dreams.


Palmisano is the third-generation president of the San Gennaro Feast and has cultivated its growth both in size and popularity by adding a commercial component to greater diverse community participation. From 2006 to the present day, he has received many prestigious honors, some of which include obtaining the key to the city of Las Vegas in 2007, garnering a Lifetime Honorary Membership from the Italian American Club of Southern Nevada, and being knighted in Sicily in 2006 for keeping the Italian culture alive abroad. He became a Cavalier, granted by the Vatican, along with blessings from Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict, and Pope Francis.


The next San Gennaro Feast is scheduled for September 18-22, 2024, at the M Resort, along with other celebrations in Italy, New York, Las Vegas, Arizona, and Florida, to name a few. Visitors are encouraged to join people from all over and attend this unforgettable community cultural celebration of reverence, music, and the arts. Each admission ticket is good for entry on any one day of the festival.


Find more details on Saint Gennaro's history and ticket information on the San Gennaro Feast

Facebook@ San Gennaro Feast





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