WILLIAMSBURG — Celebrations are underway for the 136th annual Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast, a 12-day festival in gratitude to the Virgin Mary. Through July 16, the streets of Williamsburg will welcome the Italian tradition that dates back to 1887, and features world-famous moments including the Dancing of the Giglio and Boat Parade, the Night Dancing of the Giglio, and the Capo Parade.
An opening night Mass, celebrated July 5 at the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg, invited parishioners to cherish the upcoming week’s joyful dancing and singing, as knowing one is loved by God is reason for celebration. Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, shared during the Mass that he could “smell the sausage and the peppers coming in” already.
“This is cause for celebration,” Msgr. Gigantiello said. “So, let’s have a party. Let’s celebrate. Let’s allow the Lord to work through us with songs of joy. Let’s eat well.”
The popular lifting of the seven-story tower called the Giglio, which is decorated in Gigli flowers and supports a 12-piece brass band and singer, is a highlight for the festival. It takes 112 dancing and marching men to hoist the Giglio through the streets of Williamsburg, and it will be only one part of the celebrations on Sunday, July 9. A boat, complete with rigging, a sail and mast, will also be carried and danced through the streets.
“Summer doesn’t begin in Williamsburg until the opening of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The highlight of the Parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is our feast! It is the pulse and showcase of our parish family,” Msgr. Gigantiello said in a statement.
The calendar for the festival includes:
- The children’s Giglio and Family Night on Thursday, July 6, and Tuesday, July 11, both starting at 6:30 p.m.
- The Questua, the tradition of distributing blessed bread through the neighborhood as people customarily give donations in return, is on Saturday, July 8, at 10 a.m.
- The Dancing of the Giglio and Boat Parade on Sunday, July 9, at 1:30 p.m.
- The Night Dancing of the Giglio on Wednesday, July 12, at 7:30 p.m.
- A Vigil Mass on Saturday, July 15, at 11 p.m.
- Five Masses to celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on Sunday, July 16.
- Capo Parade and Dancing of the Giglio on Sunday, July 16, at 1:30 p.m.
Daily Masses will also be celebrated at the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
“While this feast celebrates a cherished Italian-American tradition, it truly doesn’t matter your age or origin, there is something for everyone at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel feast,” said John Notaro, the general chairman of the OLMC Feast. “We look forward to seeing many new and old friends joining us for a special time complete with great food, entertainment, games, and of course the dancing of our world famous Giglio.”