93rd Annual Feast of San Gennaro Kicks Off in New York City

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The savory and sweet smells of meatballs, cannolis and zeppoles will greet thousands of people in New York City's Little Italy as the annual Feast of San Gennaro kicks off on Thursday.

For the first time in 93 years, organizers of the 11-day celebration of all things Italian American at have added a zeppole eating competition to the line up of delicious foods. Vendors offering everything from beloved Italian foods and family-friendly activities will station along Mulberry Street, between Canal Street and Houston Street.

The Feast of San Gennaro does not take the word "feast" lightly. Beside the zeppole eating contest, organizers will still hold the 22nd annual cannoli eating competition on Friday and the 4th annual meatball eating competition on Sept. 21.

The festivities will officially begin at 6:00 p.m. Thursday with The Blessing of The Stands where a Parish Priest blesses all the shops and merchants.

This year's Grand Marshall is New York-based actor Steve Schirripa, known for his Italian roles in "Blue Bloods" and "The Sopranos." The Grand Procession parade led by Schirripa will take place on Saturday.

San Gennaro, the festival's namesake, was the patron saint of Naples, Italy, and was martyred for the faith back in 305 A.D. Today, the annual celebration is the longest running festival in New York City.