The 128th Giglio Italian Feast via Our Lady of Mount Carmel
A centenarian festival sure, but watching 112 men dance an 80-foot-tall, 4-ton tower up and down Havemeyer Street in the middle of the summer never gets old. The tower, created by hand and decorated with saints and cherubs, is centered on a platform where a 12-piece brass band plays and and lifted right along for the ride with the tower. There are several ‘lifts’ during the festival’s run that kicked off on July 8th and ended on July 19th. Sunday the 12th was the day of the first tower lift, and the steps in front of Williamsburg’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel were packed with eager spectators. The Night Lift and the Old Timers’ Lift would follow in the ensuing days. The kids also got into the action with a Children’s Lift of their own scaled down tower.
Number 1 Capo, Paul Pennolino said, “Terrific! This year’s Giglio went fantastic! [The Sunday of the lift] was over 100. I was wondering if the guys would come out to lift. But they came. I looked around and could see gold shirts all over the place. It was very touching.” Those who lifted word gold t-shirts.
This festival brings out the kid in everyone. All along Havemeyer there were games, rides, and street friendly Italian specialties: cannoli, zeppole, torrone, calzone, braciole. There was even a stand where you could buy hand-rolled cigars.
The first Giglio festival was brought to Brooklyn in 1903 by immigrants from Naples. The festival honors St. Paulinas, an early Christian martyr who was taken prisoner by the Turks. The Giglio Feast is also produced to support Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, in addition to being a celebration of the Italian-American community in Williamsburg. This festival, second in size in NYC only to the San Gennaro Feast in Little Italy, calls back many to return to ‘the old neighborhood’. This festival is so original many who have been before want to return for another Giglio good time. Where else can you ride a Ferris wheel right next to the BQE!