July 3, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
A neighborhood tradition that has taken place on an annual basis for the past 115 years will be returning to the streets of Williamsburg later this week.
The Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast, as the 12-day event is called, will kickoff on July 5, and is perhaps most known for the hoisting and parading of a 65-foot, 4-ton structure through neighborhood streets.
The Italian tradition features live music and hoards of treats for all ages, including activities and rides for children, a bazaar, and a variety of traditional southern Italian foods, in the streets surrounding the OLMC Church at 275 N 8th St. The feast is also a major fundraising event for the church.
The main events will be on July 8, July 11, and July 15, when the Giglio, as the structure is called, will be lifted by approximately 125 men and carried through the procession route before returning to the church. Italian bands and musicians will march alongside the lifters to provide encouragement.
The Brooklyn festival dates back to 1903, with Italian immigrants bringing the tradition to the neighborhood to honor both San Paolino, a priest who lived roughly 1,600 years ago in Nola, Italy and Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
The story has it that San Paolino gave himself up to North African pirates who had overrun his town in exchange for a widow’s son to be freed. San Paolino was then held captive until word of his actions reached a Turkish sultan, who negotiated for his freedom and of other Nola men.
San Paolino was later greeted by townspeople with lilies, which marked the origins of the Giglio-carrying event. The Nola people, according to the legend, began competing to create the most elaborate lilies display, thus explaining the 65-foot structure to be paraded around in the coming days.
For a full schedule of activities, visit the feast’s website.