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August 15, 2014     Post-Gazette
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August 15, 2014
 

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Page 8 POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 15, 2014 Tradition Runs Sky High at New York's Giglio Feast by Christian A. Guarino The Giglio Tower (Photo by Bob Maida, Giglio Society) Members of Boston's Saint Anthony Society participate in the lifting and dancing of the Giglio. Each year, an 80-foot tower weighing nearly 4- tons, and over 100 men and women with a passion to literally carry on their Italian heritage meet on Pleasant Avenue between 114 th and 116 th Streets in the East Harlem section of Nev York City. Last weekend, a delega- tion from the Saint Anthony Society which runs the popular St. Anthony's Feast in Boston's North End trav- eled to New York and had the pleasure of experienc- ing another great Italian- American tradition, the Feast of the Giglio (Lily) in honor of Saint Anthony of Padua. Over the past two years, the organizations have bonded by participating in each other's festivals. The history of the festival in the United States can be traced back to the early 1900s when immigrants from Brusciano, a city on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius just out- side of Naples, first came to the United States. With them they brought pieces of their way of life from their home- land, chief among them the tradition of the Giglio. The festival lasts four days, beginning on Thursday and culminating on Sunday with the lifting and dancing of the Giglio tower. Starting at 2 o'clock on Sunday afternoon, the Giglio band and vocalists singing traditional Neapolitan songs which are situated at the foot of the tower, were lifted onto the stout shoulders of members of the East Harlem Giglio Society and many other devotees of the Saint. At one time, East Harlem boasted what is believed to be the largest Italian-American community in the United States. Today, through gentrification, the section no longer maintains a strong Italian feel, however during those four days in August, the descendants of the original immigrants from Brusciano meet to bring back a piece of their neighborhood's past. "We have the same pride, passion, and devotion our ancestors from Brusciano had when we dance the Giglio di Sant' Antonio" said Phil Bruno, whose grand- father Gioacchino Vivolo was the original Cap0 Paranza, a title given to the person in charge of the lifters and who leads the parade while shouting out instructions to the carriers. The traditional order is in the form of four com- mands spoken in the Bruscianese dialect. "Uagliu!" (Boys!); -"Aizate e Spalle!" (Lift your shoulders!); "Acconge e cosceF (Tighten your legs); "Aggiet!" (Drop it!) At the last order, the men bend their knees down causing the Giglio to land on the pavement with a terrific thud. "It is amazing that after 100 years, the friendships that we made throughout our lives in this neighborhood, and the love for this tradition is the glue that keeps the Festa going in East Harlem." Great-great-great-grandchildren of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Dan Emerson, Sukey Forbes, and Alec Forbes Emerson The Trustees Board of Directors chair David Croll, Trustees president and CEO Barbara Erickson, and Red Coat Paul O'Shaughnessy, commander of the I0 th Regiment of Foot, who led a "skirmish" against Minute Men in nearby woods dur- ing the reception. "A Night at the Old Manse" on Thursday, July 10 th drew 140 friends of The Trustees of Reservations, the world's oldest land trust and one of Massachusetts' largest conser- vation and preservation non-profits. Built in 1770, this National Historic Landmark was home to Ralph Waldo Emerson and other leaders of Concord's political and social revolutions and the Transcendentalist movement. The event's honorary co-chairs were Nancy Nelson, superintendent of Minute Man National Historical Park, and Christopher Lydon, host of WBUR's Radio Open Source. Guests enjoyed rum punch and hors d'oeuvres provided by Pepper's Catering .in the apple orchard on the banks of the Concord River overlooking the historic Nor'th Bridge. A surprise skirmish between 6 th Middlesex Regiment and Red Coats announced the conclusion of cocktail hour. Guests were welcomed by David Croll, Chair of the Board of Directors, and Barbara Erickson, President + CEO of The Trustees. Over dinner, Sukey Forbes and Alec Forbes Emerson offered readings of their great- great-great-grandfather Emerson's poetry before a lively auction was led by Karen Keane, CEO of Skinner auction house. The auction included unique Trustees experiences like a private campout on Misery Island and VIP experiences on Martha's Vineyard and Crane Estate in Ipswic h. The event raised nearly $100,000 in support of The Trustees' work protecting and caring for more than 100 exceptional properties in Massachusetts. Nancy & Buzz Constable; Karen Keane, CEO of Skinner, Inc.; and Dan Elias Committee member, Clem Benenson, Jen & David Mayer Committee members. Cindy & John Reed The Minute Men fire an ear-splitting volley, driving the Red Coats away and sending guests to dinner. Minute Man National Historical Park superintendent Nancy Nelson & Committee member Brooke Redmond (Photos by-Roger Farrington)