An overwhelmed police detail assigned to keep things in order during last June’s church-sponsored, nearly week-long street festival in Pelham Bay is being blamed for creating a situation that has put the event on life support .
The future of St. Theresa’s festival which started in 1997, is now in jeopardy after the turmoil that took place after the feast last year, which resulted in vandalized vehicles, storefronts damaged and other property ruined due to unruly, rowdy teenagers that descended on the feast from other neighborhoods.
All of the incidents occurred beyond the perimeter of the feast, mostly along Westchester and Crosby avenues, just outside the Buhre Avenue #6 train station.
“We want to make it clear that there were no incidents at the feast itself last year,” said the church’s pastor Reverend Thomas B. Derivan. “The 45th Precinct did their usual excellent job in patrolling the feast. However, outside the barriers of the feast, the police were not able to do their job, unfortunately.”
“That matter should be brought to our city officials – if police cannot do their job, then incidents like the one that happened on Westchester and Crosby avenues can happen in any place and at any time, feast or not.”
Additionally, Fr. Derivan clarified the reason St. Theresa Feast’s representatives were not at Community Board 10’s full board meeting on Thursday, January 16.
They had previously attended a board committeee meeting, and were informed that it was not necessary for them to attend next meeting.
At the January 16 meeting, CB10 voted against approving the permit for the feast.
According to the board, the Mayor’s office can override the board’s decision and approve the permit through the Street Activity Permit Office.
St. Theresa Church said it had nothing to do with promoting the feast outside the Pelham Bay community.
According to the church, “the only advertisements and information pertaining to the feast were posted in front of the church and in the parish bulletin”.
Over the years, the feast has highlighted different themes, including ‘The Year of Faith – The St. Theresa Feast Embodies Our Faith’, ‘Celebrating 50 Years of Teaching Catholic Values’, ‘Faith, Family, Friends and Fun’ and ‘Christ Our Hope’, the latter of which was in commemoration of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to NYC in 2008.
The 20+ year tradition focused on family entertainment including carnival-style rides, games and game stations, magicians, raffle prizes, DJs, band performances and other traditional fun.
The final day of the festival featured the procession through the streets with the statue of St. Theresa, the namesake saint of the church.
Proceeds from the annual fundraiser went towards financing the parish’s operating costs.