Food trucks advertising zeppoles, funnel cakes, and sausage and peppers are lined up on a red, white and green Havemeyer Street between North 7th and 9th Streets. Kiddie rides fill the side streets and a giant steel tower sits on the corner in front of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (OLMC). The area that will serve as the grounds for the 125th annual Feast of the Giglio, for most of the next two weeks, however, remains eerily quiet. It will stay that way until Thursday, July 5th, when thousands come to celebrate two Patron Saints, the Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel and St. Paulinus, former Bishop of Nola, Italy, the town from which many of OLMC’S founders came to the US.
If you still don’t know what the Giglio is about, this 125 year old tradition commemorates the release of Paulinus from Moorish slavery. As he returned aboard a Moorish Galleon, the joyous townspeople of Nola raised lilies (Italian: Giglio) in their hands as a sign of homage to San Paolino. From this beginning grew a festival that continues to be celebrated by Paulinus’ landsmen. Today, a replica of the galleon is built and a giant tower colorfully decorated with flowers and angels and topped with a statue of the saint is erected to represent the lily. Both structures are staffed with full orchestra and singers. Various activities take place each day of the Feast.
According to OLMC Monsignor Joseph Calise, this year’s Feast will stick to tradition, despite the significant anniversary. Some highlights will include the opening night Mass on July 5th, the children’s Giglio on Fridays July 6th and 13th and the Feast Day on Monday, July 16th which begins with a midnight Mass followed by Mass celebrated in multiple languages throughout the day. Of significance is the Celebration Mass in Creole at 8:00PM that evening. (The Virgin Mary is also the Patron Saint of Haiti,, and that service is generally very well attended.) As always, Bishop of Brooklyn, Nicholas DiMarzio will attend the Feast Day to celebrate Mass in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (service at 10:00AM).
The main events, of course, are the three “Dances,” during which OLMC parishioners dance the tower and boat through the Williamsburg Streets, while the bands perform traditional Italian music along with more recent classics like the theme songs from Rocky and the Godfather. The dances will take place on Sundays July 8th and 15th, beginning at 1:00PM and Wednesday, July 11th, starting at 8:00PM.
Musical entertainment is planned for most nights. Performers will include The Brooklyn Keys, The Acchords and Angelo Ruggiero. In addition, several Italian-Americans, including some NYPD officers and a judge will be honored at this year’s Feast for being good role models for Italian-American youth, said Calise. And of course, there’s the food!
The Feast runs July 5th to 16th in front of Our Lady of Carmel Church at 275 North 8th Street. Further information and the Feast schedule are available at the Church or on their website, http://www.olmcfeast.com/.
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