A Feast of Strength!
This year’s #1 Capo, Paul “Bo” Pennolino, dedicated the first lift of the Giglio (lily) tower to his soon to be born first grandchild. When asked to sum up this year’s feast he said,
“Great feast, nice crowds, great weather, and we all came together on the lifts.” Pennolino’s love and knowledge of Williamsburg spans all of his 62 years, as he was born, schooled, and continues to live within the boundaries of Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s parish.
The lure of the feast reaches farther each ensuing year either to bring back those longing for a reunion with the old neighborhood or newcomers who heard about it and now want to see it. These are added to those in the neighborhood regulars who wouldn’t miss this feast.
John M. Viola, President of the National Italian American Foun-dation (NIAF) was born in Williamsburg. In a recent interview he gave to L’Italo-Americano’s Lavinia Pisani. Viola said, “Every time I hear the first beats of that song “O Giglio e Paradiso” my foot starts to tap, like something is awakened inside of m, and I just feel great about life. There is just something about [Giglio] that makes me feel very blessed to be Italian American and very blessed to be a New Yorker.”
The streets may get more crowded, but there continues to be an atmosphere of altruist cooperation when traveling through the throng and especially amongst the lifters who work as one to move the tower and boat. Altruism also has its roots in the origin story of the feast: a 4th Century bishop offered himself in exchange for a boy who had been taken into slavery — sometime after a Turkish sultan heard this story and negotiated for bishop’s freedom. This year Joey Aragona took on the role of the Turk at the feast.
2016 is Pennolino’s 2nd and final year as #1 Capo. The #1 Capo title lasts for two years. At the final lift of this year’s Giglio the baton was passed to Gerard Langone. He’ll be the #1 Capo for 2017 and 2018.