Lowellville parade begins week of celebrations
By Graig Graziosi
A crowd of men in white shirts and black pants led a procession of more than 100 of their peers and neighbors over the Mahoning River and up a hill toward Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in the village.
Occasional fireworks exploded Monday morning above the village as the group traveled from the Mount Carmel Society through downtown, accompanying a pickup truck with a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel – the Virgin Mary – in the bed.
This yearly parade serves as a kickoff to a week of celebration in the village, concluding with the four-day Mount Carmel Festival from Wednesday through Saturday.
When the procession reached Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church, a group of men removed the statue of Mary from the truck and carried it inside, with the rest of the participants flooding in behind.
In a celebration of the heritage of the early immigrant residents of Lowellville, the Mass was given in both English and Italian.
Before, during and after the Mass, the Lowellville Mount Carmel Band led the marchers as they paraded around the village.
Jeff Penny, a trumpet player, said the group plays historical Italian songs during the parade and festival.
The Mount Carmel Society was preceded by the Mount Carmel Club, which was created in the late 1800s as a homeless shelter for Italian immigrants.
In addition to the parade, there will also be bocce tournaments every night of the festival, a morra – an Italian game involving math and shouting – tournament Friday, and fireworks on Saturday night.
The festival’s highlight is the village’s now iconic “baby doll dance,” which will take place at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday, during which a dancer in a papier mache “baby doll” costume whirls around while fireworks erupt from the costume.
All the festivities will take place at the Mount Carmel Society hall, 102 Washington St.