HAMMONTON — The 16th of July is a
special day in this predominately Italian town in western Atlantic
A tradition started 133 years ago continued here last Wednesday as a
solemn procession paid homage to the Blessed Mother during the feast
day of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
A statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was ushered out of St. Joseph Church
on Third Street shortly after 4 p.m., the last of more than a dozen
statues wheeled through the streets.
For about three hours, the procession continued on streets surrounding
Joe and Gina Mastazi of Paulsboro have come to feast day for the past
27 years. As in the past, they were easy to spot, clad in their red,
white and green outfits.
“Ten years ago, my mother died on the morning of the feast day. The
last thing she said to me was to put $10 on the Blessed Mother for me,”
said Joe Mastazi, who scoped out a nice shady area two blocks down from
the church. “It makes it even more important.”
Gina remembered coming to the festival as a child with her parents. She
recalled enjoying watching the procession go by, something she enjoyed
again this year.
“I didn’t like the rides too much,” Gina said.
Though the crowd for the beginning of the procession was sparse, the
festival area quickly filled up around 7 p.m. as hundreds of visitors
converged to enjoy the festivities and the 10 p.m. fireworks show.
“It was just unbelievable,” said George Campanella, president of the
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Society, the group that organizes the weeklong
celebration here each July. “Maybe it was the economy, the price of
gas. It was just great to have that many people back here. Hopefully,
they’ll be back here when we have the 134rd celebration next year.”
The feast is the longest- running religious celebration of its type in
the country. It’s a tradition around here and one that the Our Lady of
Mt. Carmel Society, the group of 50 men that organizes the celebration,
takes pride in keeping alive.
I for one would like to see some Carmel
- Dark Night of the Soul roller coaster. This could
be one of those indoor covered rides like Space Mountain and so totally
dark inside. I could easily imagine a purification of the
senses section and to finish the ride you have to love God without any
spiritual benefits. Though the ride could be quite long for
most of us.
- Ascent of Mt. Carmel ride. You ride to the top of
Mt. Carmel with a light guiding you on a happy night where you leave
your cares “forgotten among the lilies.”
- The Interior Castle Funhouse. The seven mansions
of the interior castle have quite the potential to offer interesting
experiences. Obviously the the gate by which to enter the
Interior Castle Funhouse is prayer and meditation. The first
mansion is full of a thousand preoccupations and you slowly move onward
to the last mansion if God has given you the grace to do so.
- St. Therese Ball. You enter one of those old
American Gladiator steel cage balls where you get kicked, thrown to the
ground, left in a corner, or pressed to Jesus’ heart.
- The concessions would obviously be Karmel Candy and Blessed
Elizabeth of the Trinity Chocolate *.
I would certainly invest in such an effort and would be sure to buy St.
Simon Stock in it.
* Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity suffered from Addison’s
disease and as a result could only eat certain things. One of
them was quite a penance to her Carmelite soul in that she often had to
sustain herself using chocolate.