Our Lady of Mount Carmel and San Paolino Dinola is gearing up for its annual Giglio Feast from July 5 through July 16, with a special feature in store to celebrate its 125th anniversary.
As is tradition, the festival will feature the Shrine-Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the lifting of the Brooklyn Giglio, in addition to food, rides, games, a flea market, amusements and nightly entertainment.
To celebrate its anniversary, the church will also have an exhibit to celebrate 125 years of its existence in Upper Hall, upstairs from the gymnasium. Upper Hall will also host an Italian Cafe with espresso, Italian pastries, wine, beer and other refreshments, with tables and chairs to sit at.
Visitors who get hot in the summer weather while eating from their favorite Italian food carts on the street can also take refuge in the cafe's air conditioning.
The festival commemorates Bishop Paulino who, in the midst of a North African invasion of Italy in 410 A.D., offered himself to slavery in exchange for his son's freedom. However, Paolino's sacrifice and altruism won back his own freedom in the end.
The feast began in Brooklyn in 1903 as a way for Italians, who were migrating in droves to the United States at the time, in Brooklyn to celebrate their history.
In addition to its community, the feast also honors its Capos, particularly the No. 1 Capo Vinnie Occhiuto, who is in his last year in the position.
Paul Pennolino, the No. 3 Capo, said most visitors come for the food and the lifting of the 72 foot-tall, four-ton tower carried by 150 men.
The statue is carried on festival's three key days: the Dancing of the Giglio and Boat on Sunday, July 8; the Night Dance of the Giglio on Wednesday, July 11; and the Feast on Monday, July 16.
“Everybody looks forward to it that was born and raised in this neighborhood,” Pennolino said of the festival.
Pennolino expressed skepticism regarding the receptivity to the feast among those who are new to the festival, as the Catholic church in Williamsburg fell victim to anti-religious vandalism twice in recent months.
Most recently, on Saturday, June 23, the words “castrate yourself” were written on a statue of the Virgin Mary owned by the nearby Immaculata Medici
“The goal for this year is to have a good festival, a happy festival a safe festival, and at the same time make some money for the church because without the festival the parish doesn't survive,” Pennolino said.
For more information, visit Olmcfeast.com.