The food trucks and carnival rides are already setting up on Havemeyer Street as they prepare for the 2013 Our Lady of Mount Carmel (OLMC) Feast of the Giglio.
From July 10th to July 21st guests can enjoy rides, taste local food and celebrate this Italian tradition which honors two patron saints the Virgin Mary and Saint Paulinus of Nola. For Williamsburg this will be the 126th year of the celebration at OLMC.
The highlight of the festival is the Dance of the Giglio and Boat. The dance commemorates Saint Paulinus, who was the Bishop of Nola. It is said that he offered himself as a slave in place of a child. When a Turkish sultan heard of his heroic act he rescued Paulinus and the town’s children and returned them to Nola on his boat. Upon their return, the people of Nola greeted them with towers of lilies, or giglio in Italian.
This reunion is reenacted every year with the Dance of the Giglio and Boat. The Giglio is a 72 feet tall tower adorned with flowers and angels and topped with a statue of Saint Paulinus. It weighs in at two tons. 150 Italian-American men carry the structure on their shoulders as they dance down the street to the tune of traditional folk music. The two structures eventually meet in the middle of the street.
The honor of lifting the structures has been passed down through families for generations. “The keyword here is tradition. The lifters do this in honor of their families and culture,” said Patty Grande, 2009-2010 Capo. “The feast is very family-oriented. There is no gambling, we really want families to come and have a good time.”
The Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel will host masses in five different languages, a flea market and even a café containing a mini Giglio Feast museum.
“Pride is not always a bad thing,” said Monsignor Joseph Calise. “It’s good to be proud of your culture. We want to share our culture with the people in the neighborhood.”
For more information about the 2013 Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast and a schedule of events visit www.olmcfeast.com.