Rise and dine! Williamsburgers will reprise Giglio feast, tower on Columbus Day

Rise and dine! Williamsburgers will reprise Giglio feast, tower on Columbus Day
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

This feast is back for seconds!

A group of Italian Williamsburgers has been quietly reprising the Giglio feast — the beloved century-plus neighborhood tradition where men carry an 80-foot-tall tower through the streets on St. Paulinus’s feast day in July — every Columbus Day for the past four years. But now the secret is out, and the revelers say they now expect hundreds of onlookers to join the fun this Oct. 12.

“People in the local Giglio community have found out about it by word of mouth,” said Domenic Varuzza of the neighborhood’s Giglio Boys Club, who helped kick off the first Columbus Day feast in 2011. “That’s why it’s grown every year since we first did it.”

A group of teens in the club first had the idea to throw a scaled-down version of the annual Giglio feast — which was started by immigrants from Nola, Italy who set foot in Williamsburg more than a century ago — with a block party and a more modest 45-foot Giglio tower to give the tight-knit community a chance to celebrate its heritage without all the hype of the big bash, said Varuzza.

“This is just a local neighborhood thing,” he said. “It’s a chance to enjoy our tradition at a time other than July.”

The club landed on Columbus Day as the perfect time for a bonus feast because the holiday, named after the famed Italian explorer, is already a day for Italian Americans in the city to celebrate their heritage.

But it is hard to keep a tower the length of a shipping container under wraps, and last year’s little get-together drew a crowd of at least 500 despite rainy weather, Varuzza said. And with sunny skies forecast for this year, the group expects an even larger turnout.

Still, the Giglio boys say they welcome the swelling attendance — even though it requires a lot more work.

“The bigger it gets, the more work it’s gonna be,” said Varuzza. “But as long as you have the volunteers, it’s a great thing to do.”

Columbus Day Giglio starts at the Brooklyn Giglio Boys Club (554 Lorimer St. between Devoe Street and Metropolitan Avenue, (718) 853–6112). Oct. 12 at 8 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.
The big deal: The main Giglio feast in July features an 80-foot tower — the Columbus Day one won't be quite so tall.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini