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.)
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.
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.