It was 70 degrees, and the afternoon sun baked on the concrete streets. Little Italy, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, was filled with people attending the 11-day “Feast of San Gennaro.” But in the middle of the crowd was Jason Kan, 21. He came for more than the food.

This electrical engineering intern from Singapore was at the famous annual festival for something different.  He and four other paying customers were there for the “San Gennaro Feast Scavenger Hunt & Party.” They were split into two tiny groups and handed a list of 43 tasks that took them all around Little Italy.

“It’s a great way to check out the Italian festival,” said Kan afterwards. “I was concentrating more on the hunt though, so I’m going to have to go back and check out the food and activities.”

The hunt cost $10 per person and began at 12:30 p.m. in front of Forlini’s restaurant. The two teams had 1 hour and 15 minutes to finish. The tasks ranged from taking pictures of couples kissing, finding the Big Chair and collecting crushed lemons from lemonade stands.

At the San Gennaro scavenger hunt, participants wove their way through packed streets lined with food vendors and restaurants. The two small groups smelled the wafting fresh lemons, passed by pulled-pork sandwiches and grilled sausages.

But there was no time to try the food or games because of the time crunch — they had to jostle through the crowds and keep their eyes peered for hidden clues.


“I got really into the competition,” said Jill Danne, 21, a Chinese-German student from Singapore studying at New York University. “But I didn’t really get to explore the festival or meet many people.”

The hunt was sponsored by New York Social Network, which hosts 30 themed events and activities around New York City. Founder Dave Cervini started the business in 2004 as a way for people to meet in more places than just bars and parties.

“Dave didn’t only want to meet people at bars,” said Allison Zaleski, 29, an NYSN staffer who running the hunt. “He wanted adventures so similar people could meet doing something they enjoyed.”

The San Gennaro hunt was close. The teams  ran through the streets, in-between the vendors, jumping around startled festival-goers, to meet the ticking deadline. The team of four returned with seconds to spare, winning with a slim 35-33 points. They won free tickets to another NYSN event.