Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Annual Big Time Celebration
July 26, 2023 – July 30, 2023
The Annual “Big Time” celebration as it’s known dates back to 1883. The term was given by Fr. Denisco who started the civic-religious celebration because he felt the need for camaraderie. The initial celebration was patterned after the festival that took place in Roseto Valfortore, Italy. The festival days were set aside to honor Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and were always held on the last weekend in July. In the early days, the festival was held for a full week beginning on a Monday. It has since changed to a five-day period beginning on a Wednesday. On Saturday night, a fireworks display takes place; then on Sunday, there is a procession down Garibaldi Avenue to honor the Blessed Virgen Mary.
Throughout the years, the celebration grew. It included a variety of amusements: circus-type shows, band concerts, and finally, the fireworks display on Saturday night. A vast assortment of foods complemented the entertainment. These included such delicacies as sausage and peppers, pizza fritta, Italian candy, and cookies. Vendors lined both sides of Garibaldi Avenue offering their wares as far as Columbus Street. Originally, the grounds were located on a baseball field where Our Lady of Mount Carmel Elementary School now stands. From there, it was relocated to the Roseto Ball Park and later to the Amelio Scott Stadium of Pius X High School. Now, part of it is on the High School grounds while most of the celebration has returned to Our Lady of Mount Carmel School grounds.
Family reunions often go hand-in-hand with the Big Time. Relatives and friends from near and far visit each other and attend the Big Time. While not as expansive as it once was, crowds still come to the celebration from a radius of about seventy miles.
During Father Montiani’s pastorate, two fundraising ideas took form: a program booklet for the celebration and a contest for the selection of a festival queen. Each queen contestant is to sell tickets. The girl who sells the most tickets is crowned “Queen of the Big Time”. The girl selling the second most tickets is the “Princess”, and the remaining contestants make up the “Queen’s Court”. Over the years, some of the contestants have sold several thousand tickets to become queen. This fundraiser has significantly helped sustain the Parish’s financial needs.
On Saturday evening, the queen is crowned by the previous year’s queen. Following the crowning, the queen begins her reign by taking her place alongside a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on a float that rides down the main street of Roseto in a parade-like fashion. The Pastor(s) and Roseto Mayor serve as parade marshals. The queen and her court follow in convertible automobiles. The first Queen was Mrs. Katie Callie Diorio in 1926.
On Sunday, the festival turns its focus to Our Blessed Virgen Mary. The queen crowns the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the patron saint of our Church. Following the crowning, the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, Pastors, Altar Servers, visiting clergy, and the Sodality along with many faithful parishioners process down Garibaldi Avenue following the Queen’s float as they all recite the Rosary usually led by a couple of parishioners. Those faithful who cannot participate still watch the Procession as it makes its way down Garibaldi Avenue.