Giglio Rides above Heat Wave

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“You’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. You’re doing a penance for those who can’t do it for themselves,” Veteran lifter Archie Pirro was quoted in The Tablet as saying

Even though July gets its share of summer heat, this year the heat and humidity combined to create an outdoor sweat lodge with a heat index of over 100 F, which set off heat advisories and warnings the last week of the Giglio. As of July 25th the National Weather Service has ranked this NYC’s fourth hottest July on record (and that ranking could move up with three more 90 degree days possibly looming before August 1.)

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This year’s Turk, Joe Mascia, and his crew. The ship is carried by lifters along North 8th Street and down Havemeyer to meet up with the Giglio.
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After Our Lady of Mount Carmel put out the call for volunteer lifters, for the first time in the history of this feast, the community answered.

However, sweltering heat can’t put a damper on the spirit of those who lift the Giglio physically and figuratively. From July 10–21, the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast, familiarly known as the Giglio, as usual filled Havemeyer St. from North 6th to Withers Sts. plus the side streets on both sides with vendors, rides, and games. Tradition and the love of community and church are what fuel those who participate in this feast, which began here in 1903 by immigrants from Nola, Italy who wanted to recreate a tradition from their old world in their new home.  Dancing a nearly 80 ft tower, laden with a dozen people (among which are Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, Deacon Philip Franco, and a brass band) up Havemeyer in the summer heat is a testimony of faith that uplifts the doers and those who witness it.


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Temperatures got to 89-90F on Giglio Sunday during the lift and the following weekend was even hotter.

In addition to the above average temperatures, there was another challenge that needed to be overcome before the feast began. For the first time a call went out for volunteer lifters. Due to the neighborhood’s changing demographics the Italian percentage of the community is decreasing. Happily Williamsburg answered the call, and the added new blood diversity plus those who grew up here and moved away that joined the lift brought the tangible angle to the lesson: together we can move mountains.


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Ezekiel 34:26 “And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing.” The Giglio night lift danced up to North 8th, right before a downpour.


Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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