When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore of the San Gennaro Feast.
Anthony Palmisano, president of the Feast, said he has scheduled many changes to the 34th biannual event.
“It’s been in my family for more than 100 years,” he said. “We want (each Feast) to be bigger than the last.”
Palmisano said one change was lower ticket prices. He plans to offer general admission for $7, seniors and military members for $5 and children under 54 inches free.
He said it was so guests could have more spending money inside the event.
“Vegas has been very good to us,” he said. “Our landlord has been very good to us, so we can afford to lower the cost. We’re giving back to the community this way.”
Palmisano is also speaking with the vendors about lowering food prices.
“We heard people talking about the economy last time, and we listened,” he said. “Hopefully we can save people some money.”
Billed as the biggest Italian feast this side of Naples, Palmisano and his staff spend all year preparing for the events. The group hosts one Feast in May and one in September every year.
“We hang flags and streamers and we decorate,” he said. “We repaint the booths every Feast. We keep it fresh, just like the food.”
The Feast attracts between 80,000 and 100,000 guests and employs up to 1,000 people per event, according to Palmisano.
“We have to have it six days because we can’t fit all the people,” he said. “It’s a big impact on the community. We create a lot of jobs for the week, and a lot of people depend on us for it.”
The Feast, 4245 S. Grand Canyon Drive, is scheduled from 4 to 11 p.m. Sept. 10-12, 4 p.m. to midnight Sept. 13, 11 a.m. to midnight Sept. 14 and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 15.
The event celebrates the life of San Gennaro, an Italian bishop who died a martyr in 305 A.D. Legend says his blood, which was collected after his death, liquefies and turns bright red in Naples, Italy in May and September.
In honor of the saint, Palmisano plans to have two statues at the Feast.
“We donate the money people leave on the statues for blessing,” he said. “It goes to St. Anne Catholic Church on Maryland Parkway.”
Palmisano also plans to donate part of the Feast’s proceeds to various charities throughout the valley, including the Nevada chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Public Education Foundation.
Last year, Palmisano donated about $40,000 to Bishop Gorman High School for its basketball program.
“It’s important to give back,” he said. “It’s a good thing to do.”
Calling the event a feast is not an understatement, either. Palmisano said more than 70 restaurant booths plan to offer plates of linguine, shrimp scampi, fried calamari, meatballs, Philly cheesesteaks, pizza, calzones and more.
“We have pasta, pasta and more pasta,” Palmisano said. “We sell hundreds of thousands of pounds of pasta, meatballs and sausages every Feast.”
Martin Boudaghian of Pop’s Kabobs said he typically sells 60 to 70 pounds of chicken kabobs each night during the event. He prepares and uses the chicken on a day-by-day basis.
“The chicken just flies out of the grill; it doesn’t stay,” he said. “When it’s busy, I have no idea how many we sell. It sells as fast as I cook it.”
Boudaghian also plans to offer beef kabobs, gyros, salads and falafel, a deep-fried patty made from ground chickpeas or fava beans and wrapped in pita bread.
“We do all this work hoping that we will go home with something,” Boudaghian said.
Palmisano also plans to have live entertainment, such as musicians, impersonators, singers from Italy and strolling performers, from 4 p.m. to close every night.
The Feast is also set to have carnival rides, a Ferris wheel, petting zoo, clowns, face painters, arts and crafts and more.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman plans to host the military color guard procession at 7 p.m. Sept. 11 in honor of the 12th anniversary of 9/11. A 15-minute fireworks show is scheduled at 9 p.m. Sept. 15.
“I like to watch the little kids’ eyes get big while watching fireworks,” Palmisano said. “They don’t do that with the little ones, so this year I added bigger ones.
“We’ve got something here for everyone. It’s good old-fashioned family fun.”
Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0403.