August 2, 2014

A Look at the 104th Annual Feast of Saint Ann, Hoboken, New Jersey

Evviva Sant'Anna! 
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
Last Saturday (July 26th), my friends and I went to Hoboken, New Jersey for the 104th Annual Feast of Saint Ann. Arriving early, we got in the queue to go to church. At first I was surprised about lining up, but I was glad we did. The line quickly grew and St. Ann’s Church was packed. After a short wait, we were greeted by members of the Monte San Giacomo Society and shown to our seats. Needless to say, the service was beautiful and ended with the most touching rendition of Dell Aurora Tu Sorgi Piu Bella, the unofficial “anthem” of the Feast.
Leaving church to partake in the Procession, I discovered that a throng of revelers had amassed outside for the festivities. Without delay, the John Duke Band got things rolling with the National Anthem and a flurry of festival songs. Covered in jewelry, the statue of Saint Ann was presented to the expectant crowd.
Traditionally carried by members of the Saint Ann’s Guild, in recent years the statue was placed onto a cart. Apparently someone up top thought it would be safer for the women to pull the statue than to carry it. This sounds reasonable, but the problem is the women weren't consulted and many want to keep the tradition of carrying the Saint. Sure it’s difficult, but as one of the ladies told me: “its supposed to be, its a form of penance.” I’m interested to see how this develops. Hopefully next year we’ll see them carry her again.
We walked for five hours through the parish singing, praying and catching up with friends and family. For those of you who haven’t walked in the Procession before, this is not as “grueling” as it may sound. We made several stops along the way, as generous members of the community offered plenty of food and water to the participants. My friends in the Monte San Giacomo Society warned me not to fill-up because they had a feast waiting for us back at the clubhouse, however, it was impossible for me to pass up on some cool watermelon outside the Failla Memorial Home and a slice of pizza from Truglios. 
Naturally we don’t just stop for food, we also visited several religious and historical sites, including the Madonna Dei Martiri Society Clubhouse, St. Francis RC Church and the amazing Santa Febronia Chapel, not to mention a private shrine dedicated to Padre Pio. Of course we also stopped by the Monte San Giacomo Club, where members brought out the Statue of San Giacomo to greet Saint Ann. When the Procession resumed, San Giacomo joined in and led the way back to Saint Ann’s Church.
After the Procession, I hurried back to the Santa Febronia Chapel (just beating the rain) for a short visit (see A Look Inside the Santa Febronia Chapel). When the sky cleared, I returned to the Feast and found my friends inside the Church. Excited to keep the party going, we were invited to the Monte San Giacomo Club for dinner. Warmly welcomed, we were treated to incredible roast beef and hot peppers sandwiches. Afterward, we met up with friends at the fairgrounds for a beer, some wine and, of course, their world-famous zeppole.  
I would especially like to thank Carmine Percontino, Andrew Giordano and all the members of the San Giacomo Society and St. Ann’s Guild for their hard work and dedication, it was truly an honor to celebrate with them. Their warmth and generosity is second to none.
After Mass St. Ann is presented to the expectant crowd
Revelers gather around St. Ann
The color guard stands ready
The Procession makes its way through the neighborhood
Members of the St. Ann's Guild show their support
Members of the Padre Pio Prayer Group join the celebration
The John Duke Band
Our friends at Truglios offered us pizza and sandwiches
(Above and below) Failla Memorial Home handed out watermelon, ice-cream, cannoli and sandwiches
The Madonna Dei Martiri Society had plenty of delicious focaccia and cold water for everyone
San Giacomo greets St. Ann
Donations are pinned on to San Giacomo
San Giacomo joins the Procession
A shrine to St. Ann
A shrine to Padre Pio
The Procession wends its way back to St. Ann's Church
Passing on the traditions
The party was just getting started at the Monte San Giacomo Club
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