The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Hammonton once again drew thousands of people. Some came for the rides and beer garden, some to express their devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Some came for both reasons.
The annual event — the 137th — ran from July 11-16, and advertised “food, fun and devotion.”
Local disc jockey Jerry Blavat helped get the festival started on July 11. There was Italian food, live music on stage, marching bands and fireworks.
On Monday, the feast day, there
were Masses throughout the day and the procession of Our Lady of Mount
The festival is sponsored by the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society, which claims it is the longest running Italian festival in the United States.
The origins of the feast go back to 1875 and an immigrant named Antonio Capelli. Wanting to exprss their gratitude for their good fortune in America, Capelli and a small group of fellow immigrants prayed in front of a painting of the Virgin Mary in his house, and then formed a procession.
The feast, as well as Hammonton, grew as more Italian immigrants moved to the area.
By 1886, the feast was moved to the Hammonton Lake Park. St. Joseph Church, the first Catholic Church in town, became a focal point for the celebration.
In 1905, the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society was chartered as an independent organization. Today membership includes parishioners of all three churches in Hammonton — St. Joseph, St. Anthony and St. Martin de Porres — that are part of St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish.
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