Brooklyn Diocese holds mass in place of storied Williamsburg Giglio lift

Divine dining: Bklynites chow down on Italian feast at W’burg Columbus-Day Giglio celebration
Main event: Giglio Boys Club members hoist the massive Giglio tower into the air.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

After the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of the storied Giglio lift, the Brooklyn Diocese announced Thursday that it would honor the beloved Williamsburg event with a mass and procession at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

Mass began at noon at the North Williamsburg church, and a procession through the streets will follow the ceremony.

“This is the first time in 75 years the Giglio will not rise, the first in the lifetime of many people that the feast will not take place and the Giglio is not lifted,” said Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello. “The feast has taken place in Brooklyn for more than one hundred years, and is very much a part of our faith community and summer in New York.”

Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Gigantiello presided over a virtual event to mark the occasion earlier in the week, which was viewed by 63,000 people, according to the Diocese.

The festival has been a neighborhood tradition in north Brooklyn since 1903, when immigrants from Italy carried the torch in hoisting an enormous tower — known as the Giglio onto their shoulders and holding it up all day. Teams of 40 men participate each summer, while the annual feast and street fair that accompany it draw thousands of onlookers in normal times.