Editor's Note: This year's feast day will be celebrated on July 15 due to July 16 falling on a Sunday.
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Hearing early morning "bombs" on July 16 is reason to celebrate -- for it's a "national holiday" in Berkeley Heights. This is a tradition of the Feast of Mount Carmel that has been carried on for generations by the members and families belonging to the Mount Carmel Society. But, never on Sunday. When July 16 falls on a Sunday, the feast day is celebrated on July 15.
For those raised in Berkeley Heights, the early "bombs" symbolize a joyous day of celebration and carrying on traditions. The Feast of Mount Carmel dates back to the early 1900s to the "original families" that settled in Berkeley Heights honoring their Italian ancestry through the culture and traditions of the Mount Carmel Society.
The feast is a religious tradition to celebrate, on July 16, the devotion that the Blessed Virgin Mary has to those who are devoted to her. According to tradition, those who faithfully wear the "Brown Scapular", as a symbol of their devotion, will be granted the grace of final perseverance and be delivered from Purgatory early.
Little did the founders of this organization dream that the tradition they brought from their native land would today become an accepted part of the community activities. The younger generation are most proud to carry on with this age-old tradition.
Members of the Mount Carmel Society and their families begin the morning of July 16 with a parade that meets across from the Church of the Little Flower. The procession is led by a brass band of Dixieland style music followed by the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
The parade follows the same historic route of the streets of their members. Until recently, they would stop along the route in front of their members homes and set off a bomb. Today, the bombs go off only in approved spots along the route said Mount Carmel Member Vince Bury.
At 11 a.m., a mass was held at the Church of the Little Flower to a packed house. Directly following, a picnic with live music was held at Peppertown Park for all members of the community to attend.
Due to the thunderstorms that have passed through the area, the Feast of Mount Carmel fair had been rained out three of the five nights. We feel horrible that Tuesday night's family firework show had to be canceled said Paul Ippolito, Feast of Mount Carmel Chairman.
The rain accumulation has played havoc to the river banks where the fireworks are launched. The crew, including Mount Carmel President Jim Delia, were out digging trenches for the fireworks and made adjustments to the property. Without a question, the Firework Extravaganza was to go off tonight at 11 p.m. said Ippolito.
"We can't control Mother Nature," said Ippolito. "It is a beautiful day today, we hope for a large turn out to make up for the rest of the week."
"We are blessed that we were able to have the procession this morning and hold the picnic in Peppertown Park for the community. We are blessed that this day is going off as scheduled," said Ippolito.
Click here for more information regarding tickets, wristband purchase and parking rules. Individual ride tickets (cash only) as well as unlimited wristbands will be sold July 12 to 14th. Wristbands will not be available on July 15h.
Information regarding Parking and Transportation on July 15:
All parking is off-site on July 15th.
Handicap parking will be available at Columbia Middle School located at 345 Plainfield Avenue, please try to arrive before 6 p.m.
Springfield Avenue will close to all traffic at 6 p.m. It is advised to come early.
Shuttle transportation will be available from Columbia Middle School on Plainfield Avenue to the front gate of the fair starting at 6 p.m. and will end at 10:30 p.m.
THERE WILL BE RETURN SHUTTLE SERVICE AVAILABLE BUT NOT UNTIL AFTER THE EVENT IS OVER AND ALL PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC IS CLEAR FROM THE ROADS.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Mt. Carmel Society Facebook page.