The three-ton Giglio was held up and lifted by 130 men as they danced to traditional and contemporary Italian tunes while occasionally bearing the 80-foot-tall, three-ton Giglio on their backs.
An additional 120 men carried the life-size boat of St. Paulinus. Together, both groups of men carried each structure to meet in front of Our Lady of Mount Caramel Church before lifting and dancing back to their prospective positions.
The Giglio Feast has been held every July since 1903, when the southern Nolani immigrants first held the feast in Williamsburg. It is a transplanted tradition from Italy, where various groups of men carry Giglios (Italian for “lillies”) as a penance for their sins.
The feast pays homage to the patron saint, San Palino, who, as the story goes, offered himself in exchange for a boy who had been abducted into slavery by North African pirates who had overran the town of Nola around 410 AD. Palino had fled to the countryside but upon his return, his compassion led him to sacrifice himself.
After a Turkish sultan heard of Palino's act he was freed, and upon his return the entire town greeted him with lillies, a symbol of love and purity.
The feast runs for 12 days with a continuous celebration of religious activities in the church, as well as other activities on the street, such as games and food concessions. On Wednesday, July 13, the men will take to the street again for the Giglio Night Lift. On Saturday, July 16, the Feast of Our Lady will commence and Sunday, July 17, marks Old Timers Day.
For more information about the Feast, visit their website