State of St. Theresa’s Feast in limbo

Screenshot of a video shot during a riot involving teenagers near the Buhre Avenue subway station.
Photo/video courtesy of Michael Ingrasci

The future of a traditional neighborhood event that has taken place every year for more than two decades is uncertain.

The St. Theresa Feast, an almost week-long festival which started in 1997, is now in jeoparardy after last year’s feast resulted in multiple incidents involving rowdy teenagers.

The marauding swarms of teens damaged vehicles, stores and other property on Crosby Avenue, Westchester Avenue as well as on some local streets near the feast.

What’s even worse, the ‘wilding’ was videoed and shared thousands of times on various social media outlets.

These videos brought an uproar from the community and were probably partially responsible for the Community Board 10 rejection of this year’s St. Theresa Church permit.

“Last week, we voted against approving the permit for the feast – but there is still time for Mayor Bill de Blasio to approve their permit through the Street Activity Permit Office,” said Community Board 10 district manager Matt Cruz.

The final decision would be made sometime in the late spring, according to Cruz.

Another factor that didn’t bode well for the Pelham Bay parish and school was the absence of representatives of the church at CB 10’s full board meeting on Thursday, January 16.

“There needs to be a solution to this problem – and if there’s no solution then there will be no feast,” said local advocate Dotti Poggi, who started a petition as well as a Facebook page along with other CB10 residents called ‘The Future of St. Theresa’s Feast Pelham Bay NY’ in attempts to discuss safety solutions to prevent the same scenario at this year’s event, should it take place.

Specific incidents included girls fighting, a child beaten while a crowd cheered, cars being vandalized and broken into, and a woman who incurred a hand injury while locking the door of her laundromat during the escalating riots.

Another Pelham Bay resident, a single mother with two children, had to dish out $2,500 to repair the damage her car sustained from the out-of -control teens.

Most of the problems occurred blocks away from the actual feast.

Hundreds of youngsters flooded into the streets on the outskirts of the feast and overwhelmed the small number of assigned police officers.

Many believe the teenage troublemakers came to the feast looking to cause problems.

If the feast was to go on several safety precautions were suggested: increase the police presence, set-up baracades for crowd control outside feast area, assign Guardian Angels on inbound and outbound #6 IRT trains, and using only one subway station for those attending the feast (Crosby Avenue is a proposed location).

As of press time, a total of 316 residents have signed the online petition which will be sent to Councilman Mark Gjonaj once it has 500 signatures.

Some Pelham Bayites blamed the incidents on the fact that the feast was advertised outside the community, in locations such as Parkchester and Jerome Avenue, attracting ‘outsiders’ to the festival.

The annual St. Theresa Feast is a five-day festival which includes carnival rides, game stations, music, cuisine, vendors and raffle prizes.

The final day of the feast includes the procession through the streets with the St. Theresa statue.

The feast was recently moved to the second-to-last week in June to improve its attendance.

The school relies heavily on the feast’s profits to keep the school affordable to its middle class families.

The Bronx Times attempted to contact the church pastor, Father Thomas Derivan, but he did not reply by press time.

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