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Get Giglio with it! Italian festival wants hipsters to join in

Heavy stuff: Kids carry a 20-foot tower at the Giglio Italian Feast.
Brooklyn Paper
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Hipsters are welcome at the feast!

A century-old religious festival in Williamsburg wants the skinny-jean set to join in the celebration. Organizers of the Giglio Italian Feast at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Williamsburg say that everyone is welcome to join festivities, which last July 6–17, and that even the most recent arrivals to the neighborhood can join the dancing and singing crowds.

“Williamsburg is a hipster neighborhood — lots of people go. You do have Italian Catholics, but you have those people who are new who might not have grown up in the neighborhood — and they’re curious,” said Carolyn Stone, a spokeswoman for the festival. “Everyone will be able to enjoy even if they’re not part of the heritage or history.”

The annual feast, now in its 113th year in Brooklyn, celebrates the story of San Paulino, a kidnapped bishop. The 12-day festival is most famous for its 70-foot tower, which is carried by a 125-man platoon while a brass band plays music (sometimes including the theme song to the film “Rocky”).

Around 50,000 people come out each year to see the tower dance through the streets and attend the festival, which is filled with games, rides, and traditional Italian food booths.

Non-Catholics will not be able to lift the tower — an honor only given to longtime members of the community — but they can still enjoy the festival atmosphere of the Giglio Feast, said Stone.

“Young people in the area can get the opportunity to socialize — and people like to be around the lifting of the Giglio,” she said. “It’s a festival — between the eating, drinking, clapping, singing, dancing, and the opportunity to meet new people. People get to see different cultures. It’s a very uplifting cultural experience.”

The festival also features a mini-Giglio tower for kids to lift, on July 7 at 6 pm, getting in practice for lifting the big pillar years later.

“The Children’s Giglio tower is about 20 feet tall this year. About 60 kids lift at a time — and they take turns,” said Stone.

“Italian Giglio Feast” at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, [275 N. 8th St. between Havemeyer Street and Meeker Avenue in Williamsburg, www.olmcfeast.com, (718) 384–0223]. July 6–17, at various times. Dancing of the Giglio, July 10 at 2 pm. Free.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I certainly do not want to ruffle anyone's feathers here, but 125 men carrying one large totem pole around the town just won't do. In my opinion, this could lead to very dangerous results-like death. Or worse. It has also proven to be ineffective because of it's height - for nobody can see the top. Now, please - pardon the suggestion, but perhaps we can double the amount of men (and this includes these hipster characters) bringing the count to 230 men (and 20 small boys) all together to carry miniature versions of this monstrosity all around the area in a rapid motion. I believe this idea to be a more effective and also safer way the get this point across. And, also it will be safer.
John Wasserman
July 5, 2016, 10:37 am
Colton from Williamsburg says:
John Wasserman, you don't know what you're talking about. This is very safe. I have seen this with my own eyes for the past ten years living in Williamsburg. No one ever gets hurt. Hot, maybe, if the weather is hot and humid. But they keep hydrated. My neighbor is a capo and years ago when I first moved here how it's done. This has been going on for many, many years here in Williamsburg and before that in Italy, and it doesn't want or need John Wasserman's advice.
July 5, 2016, 11:08 am
Homey from Crooklyn says:
Colton : always ignore Wasserman, he's just
a troll retard
July 5, 2016, 1:10 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I see that this is a tradition, and as I stated in my above letter I surely don't want to ruffle anyone's feathers. But if you'll pardon my saying so, I have also been attending this parade for years and this is only a mere suggestion. I have seen first hand, well - let's just call them "close calls". My interest is in the safety of the people, and if you say this is a tradition, then I will have to say that it is also tradition that traditions change. Pardon the interruption.
Also, "Homey from Crooklyn": I'm just as God made me. And if I were a troll, I would not let you cross my bridge. No, not with that fouled language you use.
John Wasserman
July 5, 2016, 1:34 pm

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