Get ‘giglio’ with it at the annual feast this week

Finally get to the Giglio festival.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

It’s feast week!

The Our Lady of Mount Carmel feast, the annual street festival with roots dating back to fifth-century Italy, returns to Havemeyer Street this month — meaning that for two weeks, tens of thousands of parishioners will flock to religious processions, carnival rides, and parades featuring the lifting of a four-ton, 65-foot high tower made of wood and steel.

The Dancing of the Giglio is clearly the highlight: Picture it, 112 men crouched under the tower’s wooden platform and carrying the three-story structure on their shoulders through the street for five hours. Three lifts will occur during the festival, the first this Sunday.

Here’s our guide:


Dozens of street vendors will line Havemeyer Street and N. Eighth Street for the next two weeks selling a variety of fried treats from shellfish at Louie’s Fried Clams and Seafood to pork sausages made by the Fasullo family. The must-eat treat of the year remains the zeppoles, or fried donuts, and the best are found at Dee Best Calzones and Zeppolis made by Joseph Donatelli in front of the shrine on N. Eighth Street. Get them with powdered sugar and try not to think about the calories.

If you would rather sit down for a meal, head to Bamonte’s for the after party, and eat fresh pasta at the only restaurant in the neighborhood that has been around as long as the festival itself.

Bamonte’s Restaurant [32 Withers St. between Union and Meeker avenues in Williamsburg, (718) 384-8831].


The festival is also a significant fund raiser for Williamsburg’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, which has sponsored the feast since 1903. The church will hold daily masses, including a high mass on July 11 at 11 am, just before the Giglio lift.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church [275 N. Eighth St. between Havemeyer Street and Meeker Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 384-0223].


Nothing exemplifies Williamsburg’s Italian heritage quite like the Dancing of the Giglio. Being selected as one of the lifters is an honor bestowed to a lucky few, and something that ties generations of fathers and sons together.

For the rest of us, watching the parade is a thrill all by itself. The first lift occurs on July 11 at 1 pm, but two others are scheduled this month, including a night lift on July 14 at 6 pm, and a final lift on July 18 at 1 pm before the tower is disassembled and stored in the Church basement until next year.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast (N. Eighth Street and Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg), now through July 18. For info, visit www.olmcfeast.com.

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