Photos: Thousands Cheer The Chaotic Spectacle Of Williamsburg's Giglio Lift

Jul 18, 2019 213

A Williamsburg tradition since 1903, the Giglio Feast is going on now through Sunday, July 21st on the streets around Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on Havemeyer Street. All the familiar Italian street fair sights and smells are here: zeppoles, cigars, bracciole, beer, sausage & peppers, sucker games, clams, creaky rides, Manhattan Coffee Soda, fake tattoos, the works.

But what sets this feast apart from all the others is the wild spectacle of four ritualized "Giglio Lifts" which retell, in symbolic fashion, an encounter between Bishop Paolino and a Turkish Sultan in 410 AD in the Italian town of Nola. The story is more complicated than that, but you don't have to know every detail to appreciate the craziness of the event, with the capos shouting instructions and the lifters screaming and the bands playing and the huge crowds surging and the NYPD yelling at everyone to "get back get back move move move MOVE BACK."

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