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Williamsburg's 129th Giglio Italian Feast Kicks Off

By Gwynne Hogan | July 7, 2016 10:29am | Updated on July 8, 2016 4:23pm
 The annual celebration runs from July 6 to 17.
The annual celebration runs from July 6 to 17.
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Courtesy of Giglio Italian Feast

WILLIAMSBURG —  One hundred and twenty five men will hoist a five-story, 4-ton statue above them and parade it throughout the neighborhood Sunday as part of the 129th annual Giglio Italian Feast that celebrates the life of San Paolino, a priest from Nola, Italy, who lived more than 1,600 hundred years ago. 

The 12-day festival, which began on Wednesday in front of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church at 275 N 8th St., features scrumptious Italian delicacies including seafood, zeppole and braciole as well as rides for kids and a bazaar with games and souvenirs.

The main events take place Sunday, July 10, and on July 17, when a massive towering structure will be paraded around the neighborhood, borne by the brute force of 125 Italian men.

Italian folk bands musicians like Danny Vecchiano and the Giglio Band and other live brass bands will be on hand to chant the marchers on. 

The festival, which Italian immigrants began to celebrate in 1903 as they moved into North Brooklyn, commemorates the life of San Paolino, a priest in the town of Nola around who lived approximately 400 A.D.

As legend has it, San Paolino traded his freedom for that of a widower's son who'd been captured by North African pirates along with many other men from the village. San Paolino managed to win the captors' trust and coaxed them into freeing all the Nola men.

The townspeople greeted him with lilies (giglios in Italian) upon his return. As townspeople ritualized the celebration year after year, it got more grandiose.

To see a full schedule visit the festival's website.

If you're looking for a taste of what's to come here's a dramatic trailer.