Heavenly Feast Is Back In Brooklyn

Giglio Dance Of Joy This July

Taking their faith to great heights, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Williamsburg will once again host their annual two-week feast and bazaar dedicated to their patron saint and St. Paulinus of Nola-highlighted by a truly heavenly feat of strength-for the 125th time this July.

As announced, the 12-day celebration will begin next Thursday night, July 5, and continues through Monday, July 16, in the area of the church located at the corners of North Eighth and Havemeyer streets.

Like most street fairs and feasts celebrated in New York City, the Our Lady of Mount Carmel feast features a wide variety of food, entertainment, games and amusement rides. But this festival is known for the Dance of the Giglio and Boat, an awe-inspiring tradition dating back several centuries to the southern Italian town from which many emigrated to America and settled in Williamsburg generations ago.

The Giglio (pronounced jeel-yo, the Italian word for lily) is an 80′-tall, two-ton tower featuring statues of the Virgin Mary and other saints. During the dance, the tower-with a band sitting at the base-is lifted by a group of over 300 and moved in various styles through the streets surrounding the church at the direction of a capo (Italian for captain).

The statue is symbolic of the towers of lilies carried by the people of Nola to honor their bishop, St. Paulinus, upon his return to the village in the fifth century. According to the story, the town was attacked by a North African tribe and its children were enslaved.

Paulinus offered himself to the town’s captors as a slave in place of a young boy, the only son of a widow. A sultan in present-day Turkey heard of Paulinus’ act and moved to have him and the children of Nola rescued by boat and brought back to their village.

In the centuries that followed, the people of Nola re-enacted Paulinus’ return through dances of their own Giglio and Boat. The custom was then brought to America and Williamsburg by immigrants who crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Nola 125 years ago.

The first Dance of the Giglio and Boat will take place on Sunday afternoon, July 8, at 1 p.m. A nighttime dance will occur three days later on Wednesday, July 11, at 8 p.m., followed by the third and final dance on Sunday, July 15, at 1 p.m.

Glendale resident Vinnie Occhiuto, who served as the lead capo of last year’s dance, will once again serve in that position for this year’s celebration. During the dance, the Giglio tower is turned, swayed and bobbed 25 times, with each movement lasting between three and five minutes.

Local children will also dance a smaller version of the Giglio and Boat on two consecutive Friday nights, July 6 and July 13.

As for the feast, the celebration begins next Thursday night with a Coronation Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church at 6 p.m., followed immediately thereafter by a candlelight procession. The feast will conclude on Monday, July 16, the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, with processions at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

For more information, visit the web site www.olmcfeast.com or call 1-718-384-0223.

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