Giglio priest Father Fonti leaving parish

(Credit: Urbanite)

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The annual Festa del Giglio in Williamsburg began last Wednesday - but the first ceremonial lifting of the 80-foot giglio tower wasn't until yesterday afternoon and the streets were packed. Afterall, this is the main event. [PHOTOS]

It was so hot, the soles of our shoes semi-melted and stuck to the pavement with every step. The giglio lifters were assembled beneath the five-ton structure -- more than 100 of them as usual -- with a brass band, a singer, an emcee and parish priest of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church (which puts on the feast) Father Joseph Fonti perched on top for the ride.

The feast itself has been going on for more than 100 years, but having the priest ride atop is a more recent addition. It's a tradition Father Fonti started seven years ago when he took over the church - and one he'll pass on to his sucessor when he leaves the church this year. He announced yesterday this would be his last feast with the church on Havemeyer Street.

"I started the tradition of the pastor riding the giglio," he said. "I did it because I didn't want to be up in the roof far away, I wanted to be with the people especially with the paranza (lifters)."

The feast lasts until Sunday, June 20, and the "paranza" will lift the giglio again that day, and the evening of Thursday, July 17.

-- Lauren Johnston

Tags: giglio , williamsburg , religion , neighborhoods , holiday traditions , history , food , brooklyn

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