Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Annual Big Time Conference
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, Italy. Festival days were set aside to honor Mary, the Mother of Jesus and was always held on the last weekend in July. In the early years, the festival was held for a full week beginning on Monday, but has changed to a five day period beginning on Wednesday. On Saturday night, a fireworks display takes place and then on Sunday the procession down Garibaldi Avenue to Honor Mary.
As the years went on, the celebration program grew. It included a variety of Amusements, circus-type shows, band concerts and finally the Fireworks display on Saturday night. A vast assortment of food items complimented the entertainment including italian delicacies such 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, then to the former Amelio Scott Stadium of Pius X High School. From there is migrated to behind the High School grounds and has now found it’s way back to school grounds of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Family reunions often go hand-in-hand with the Big Time. Our of town relatives come to visit as well as those who have moved out of the area, come back to visit friends and family. While not as expansive as it once was, crowds still come to the celebration from a radius of 70 miles.
During Fr. Montiani’s pastorate, two fund-raising ideas took form. A program booklet for the celebration and a contest for selection of a festival queen. Each queen contestant is to sell tickets, the girl who sells the most tickets is crowned “Queen of the Celebration”. The girl selling the 2nd most tickets is the princess and the remaining contestans make up the queens court. Over the years, some of the contestants have sold several thousand tickets to become queen. This fundraiser has proven significant to help sustain the parish’ financial needs. On Saturday evening, the Queen is Crowned by the previous years 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 and rides down the main street of Roseto in parade-like fashion. The Pastor(s), Town Mayor serve as parade marshalls while the queen and her court follow in convertable automobiles. The first Queen was Mrs. Katie Callie Diorio in 1926.
On Sunday,the festival turns it’s focus to Mary. The festival queen crowns the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the patron saint of our Church. Follwing the crowning, The Fouth Degree Knight of Columbus, Pastors, alter servers, visiting clergy, and the Sodality along with many faithful parishoners process down Garibaldi avenue follwing the Queens float, reciting the decades of the rosary. Those who are unable to participate, still watch faithfully as the procession makes it’s way down Garibaldi Avenue.