Every year, the now-scattered descendants of Williamsburg’s Italian community return to the ’hood with one essential goal: to lift an 80-foot tall, three- ton tower known as the “giglio” onto their shoulders and “dance” with it through the streets as part of the annual feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Paulinus of Nola in Williamsburg.
On Sunday, July 13 at 1 pm, 130 men will carry the massive “giglio” — Italian for “lily” — accompanied by 120 men carrying a life-size reproduction of Saint Paulinus’s boat, which has been newly remodeled in honor of the 50th anniversary of its lift.
This year, the “Capo,” or coordinator of the lifts, will be Phil Mana, a Williamsburg native who has been working his way to the prestigious title for 51 years.
The “Capo” directs the men in how to lift, where to turn and when to do the “number two” — which means dropping the “giglio” tower and picking it up again. The procession is also a very important one for Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, as Mana reminded GO Brooklyn.
“If we don’t get that ‘giglio’ up to dance, we’re not honoring the saint,” he explained. “We keep [the ‘giglio’] in our tradition for our families and our church.”
The “dance” is only one highlight of the annual festival, which will take over North Eighth Street around Havemeyer Street every day from July 9 to July 20 and fill it with live entertainment, Italian food vendors, games for kids and a celebration mass in at least five languages.
Another festival highlight is a concert featuring Michael Amante and comedian Sal Richards. They’ll be performing at the Mount Carmel Auditorium at 7:30 pm on Thursday, July 10.
The Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Paulinus of Nola feast will be held July 9 - 20 on North Eighth Street, between Meeker and Roebling streets, and Havemeyer Street, between Union Avenue and North Sixth Street, in Williamsburg, from 6 pm to 11 pm on weekdays and noon to midnight on weekends. The “dance of the giglio” begins at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (275 N. Eighth Street at Havemeyer Street) on July 13 at 1 pm. Tickets to the July 10 Michael Amante concert are a $75 suggested donation and are available at www.olmcfeast.com or by calling (888) 365-0218.