Feast your eyes on this!
The annual Feast of San Paolino Di Nola and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg is in full swing, with parishioners on Sunday performing the first of the 11-day festival’s three iconic “lifts” — hoisting a 4-ton, 70-foot tower known as the Giglio onto their shoulders and holding it up all day.
Thousands of onlookers on July 12 packed the corner of Havemeyer and N. Eighth streets near the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to catch a glimpse of the 112-man troop and the tower, which is made of steel, wood, papier-mache, and Styrofoam, and honors the life and canonization of Saint Paulinus — or San Paolino to Italians.
Organizers say they’re not worried about keeping the sacred spire aloft for the rest of the celebration — but they’re a little concerned about rain.
“It’s been great thus far,” said Domenic Varuzza, one of eight “lieutenants” who are each in charge of a 40-person team of tower-lifters. “Hopefully the weather holds up.”
The festival has been a neighborhood tradition since 1903. Immigrants from the old country brought the celebration with them from the town of Nola near Naples, Italy, where San Paolino served as bishop in the fourth century.
The next big lift will be the “Night Lift” on the evening July 15, which allows onlookers to see the tower in a different light — literally, as the tower is it lit-up like a Christmas tree — and is the most popular of all the lifts, according to Varuzza.
The feast will end on July 19 with the “Old-Timers Lift,” where former lifters raise the tower once again.