NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)The Feast of San Gennaro began Thursday in Little Italy, with tons of food and an assortment of entertainment.

As CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu reported, more than 200 vendors were ready to sell Thursday along Mulberry Street.

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“Shish kabobs, rib-eye steak, pork brasciole, broccoli rabe” were among the items at Eddie Laracuente’s Sausage and Peppers stand. And that is only a small taste.

One festival-goer named Johnny told 1010 WINS’ John Montone why he believes the festival is important.

“It’s a tradition. It brings us back to our heritage; our roots from our ancestors that came here,” he said.

This is the 88th Annual Feast, honoring Italian heritage and the patron saint of Naples. A special mass will be held next Friday, Sept. 19, at the Church of Most Precious Blood at 109 Mulberry St., followed by a religious procession.

“The statue of San Gennaro is carried traditionally through the streets of Mulberry — from Canal Street all the way to Houston Street,” said Vivian Catenaccio of the festival.

Economical Gennaro and his wife are visiting from Naples, and celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

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“I was here 65 years ago when I was a kid,” Gennaro said. “But it is very beautiful — New York, New York.”

And plenty of New York pride is on display. You might run into Tom Sciarrano of Umberto’s Clam House doing his best Frank Sinatra as he sings “New York, New York.”

And if you if you love to watch people eat like crazy, there is a cannoli eating contest and a pizza eating contest. And on Saturday, Sept. 20, what is being called the largest cannoli in the world will be unveiled.

The giant cannoli is reportedly 12 feet long and nearly 300 pounds.

And Charlotte Cahn, 4, couldn’t wait to talk about her favorite item – the fried Oreo.

The feast runs for 11 days, and you have until Sept. 21 to make it to Mulberry Street.

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