Around the turn of the 1900’s, Italian immigrants left Italy in search of a better life for their families. During this time, Southern Italy was a very desperate place holding little to no promise of a bright future for the many starving and hungry families. Many had no other choice but to pack up their belonging and take a chance on moving to the promise of the ‘New World’ – America!
Many families from the town of Brusciano, Italy migrated to East Harlem, NY to start new with other families and friends that came before them. Although these immigrants brought little with them on their 30-day long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in the tight confines of the boat. What they did carry with them where their beloved traditions. For the people of Brusciano, this included their yearly Dance of the Giglio festival in honor of Sant’ Antonio.
It was around this time that the Italian immigrants of East 106th Street in East Harlem, decided to initiate their beloved tradition by building a Giglio and dancing it in the ‘New World’. The first Giglio Feast on 106th street in East Harlem started approximately 1908. Gioacchino Vivolo is credited for being the first Capo Paranza on 106th Street. He along with his brother Rocco Vivolo were members of the Bruscianese Society and were influential in bringing this tradition to East Harlem from Brusciano, Italy. The Festival on 106th Street grew for many years becoming one of the largest street fairs in America and remained that way until 1955. Then in 1957, the festival moved a few blocks uptown to 108th Street where the Dance of the Giglio continued until 1971.
After a 29 year hiatus, the Dance of the Giglio returned to East Harlem in 2000 as a Cooperative Feast with the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mt Carmel that resides on 115th Street between 1st Avenue and Pleasant Avenue. The Festival enjoyed several great years dancing the Giglio during the Annual Feast of the Our Lady of Mt Carmel festival that takes place each year on July 16th, the feast date of the Madonna.
For the 2006 feast, it was decided to hold the Dance of the Giglio Festival separate from the Annual Our Lady of Mt Carmel feast. The Giglio is now danced in East Harlem on the second Sunday in August.
The Giglio Society of East Harlem is a devoted group of individuals who have dedicated their lives to honor Sant’ Antonio.
East Harlem Giglio society is a diverse religious and cultural organization of Catholics.
The Giglio Society of East Harlem current Board of Directors, Capo Paranza’s, Lieutenants for our Giglio Boys and Girls.
The Giglio Society of East Harlem living legends and first Capo Paranza’s.