Every July since 1903, the streets around Williamsburg's Our Lady of Mount Carmel church have played host to one of the city's wildest spectacles, the ritualized lifts of the Giglio Feast. These rowdy reenactments celebrate that time in 410 A.D. when Bishop Paolino returned to his Italian town of Nola after a Turkish ruler negotiated his freedom from pirates (Paolino had given himself up to in exchange for the return of a local widow's son they had captured).

Nolani immigrants brought their traditional Giglio Feast with them to Williamsburg, and have celebrated in the streets there every summer for over 100 years—last year, for the first time anyone could remember, the feast was canceled due to the pandemic. So, for the first time since 2019, the beloved event has returned to Havemeyer Street—this weekend, a huge crowd showed up for the big lifts of Giglio Sunday, cheering on the dozens of paranza who carried the Bishop's four-ton, 65-foot tower (the Giglio) to meet those hauling La Barca, the Turk's massive boat.

The journey of these massive structures lasts about ninety minutes and comes complete with 360-degree turns and tower-bouncing dances. Adding to the raucousness of the scene, both the Giglio and the boat are weighed down with a seven- or eight-piece brass band, a singer or two who belt out songs and steady patter, and kids throwing bushels of confetti onto the crowd.

"I've been here 50 times, I'm so excited to be back," Carol Ann, a former Williamsburg local, told Gothamist on Sunday. "This has been a tradition forever for me, and it was rough to not come last year, so to see all these people today and to remember those in my family who are not here anymore... it's all very emotional."

Nick Pascal, another Giglio lifer who was taking selfies in front of La Barca early in the day, couldn't wait for the fun to start. "I'm going to be 72 this month and I've been to every single lift since I was three years old except for the year I was in the Peace Corps, the year I taught in New Orleans, and last year because of COVID. I was worried that it wasn't going to happen again this year but by the grace of God it's here. It's very exciting. A lot of positive vibrations. This to me is a religious experience."

The Giglio Feast runs through July 18th, and, when people aren't hauling enormous structures down the street, features all of the usual trappings of an Italian street fair: sucker carnival games, zeppole, clams, creaky rides, sausage and peppers, and access to plenty of alcohol.

There are two more lifts scheduled this week, the Night Giglio Lift on Wednesday, July 14th, and the Old-Timers Giglio Lift on Sunday, July 18th.