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2012 Columbus Day Parade

by JoAnn Serpico

W3noTRYhtxe0CewjTTCOM8KzOTeRoaI65y4sJePBzhw“THEY HELPED MAKE AMERICA GREAT!” What an appropriately strong theme for our 2012 parade. This year, each float will salute Americans of Italian descent who have helped make our nation great.

Passing in review will be legendary names like Enrico Fermi, Fillipo Mazzei, Enrico Caruso, Mario Lanza, Guglielmo Marconi, Giacomo Beltrami, William Paca, Frances X. Cabrini, Fiorello LaGuardia, Joe DiMaggio and Frank Sinatra, to name just a few.

Helping to make our annual celebration of our heritage great will be our Parade Chairman, Vincent Naccarato, the Chairman of Molto Capitol LLC and a true benefactor in both Cook and DuPage counties. Vincent is working diligently to encourage businesses and individuals to participate in our parade.

Leading the lively procession of floats, bands and marching units will be our Grand Marshal, acclaimed columnist Stella Foster. By her side will be Honorary Grand Marshals Florian Barbi, Chairman of the Board and President/CEO of First Nations Bank and Bank of Bourbonnais; and Frank Cerrone, Pan American Bank Vice Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.

Our queen, Olivia Smaniotto, has been crowned, and her court — Elisa DeFeo, Norina Infusino, Bianca Vitucci Lev, Victoria Martello, and Lynzi Misuraca — is in place. Gia DeCicco, a member of our Young Professional Division, will play Queen Isabella, and Robert Davino, a familiar face from our Cotillion, will portray Christopher Columbus.

The JCCIA office is abuzz with anticipation and preparation. Scores of bands have been invited and hundreds of floats have been ordered for our most important day of the year. It all begins as we board the buses at Casa Italia and head for Pompeii. There is nothing more awe-inspiring than our pre-parade Mass at the Shrine, during which we thank the Lord for the greatest navigator of all time. Beset by doubters on all sides, he forged on to pursue his dream and discover a new world. Thirty Italian-American priests from the Chicago area have been invited to concelebrate.

The words of the Rev. Richard Fragomeni will resound throughout the Shrine, which will be filled with a host of community leaders and dignitaries, including President Antonio Romanucci, as well as current and past officers of the JCCIA, Italian Consul General Alessandro Motta, and elected officials from every level of government.

The Italian-American War Veterans color guard, Knights of Columbus in their regal attire, Order Sons of Italy in America with their purple sashes, and members of JCCIA-affiliated organizations will fill the pews. At the end of the Mass, the Marist High School band will march into church trumpeting “America the Beautiful” and lead us to Arrigo Park. Once we’re assembled, State Rep. Skip Saviano will officiate as OSIA leaders lay their ceremonial wreath before the statue of Columbus. Coffee and donuts will be enjoyed by everyone attending the Mass before we once again board the buses for our fabulous parade.

Columbus Drive and Balbo will be awash with bands, floats and marching units, all lined up under the leadership of Parade Marshal Louis Rago and his sons, Anthony and Joseph. The route will be lined with spectators on both sides of Columbus Drive, minus Chicago Public School children who will not be able to observe the Columbus holiday. We certainly hope they are learning about the great explorer and his journey on this day in their classrooms. We will miss them as we celebrate.

Our reviewing stand again this year will be provided through the courtesy of the Teamster’s Union, which generously accepted James Glimco’s request for assistance. Thank you, Teamsters!

For two hours, President Emeritus Dominic DiFrisco, Ryan Chiaverini and Janet Davies will announce as the bands play, the Italian and American flags wave, the crowds cheer and the parade passes before the cameras. Then it’s back to Casa Italia for a post-parade reception.

Our lunch buffet will be filled with mouth-watering Italian delicacies orchestrated by on-site coordinator Dean Dalaly and brought together by committee members Domenico Gambino of Tony’s Finer Foods, Tony Turano of Turano Baking Company and Dominick Stramaglia of Supreme Lobster.

What an impressive list of dynamic Italian-American businessmen who continue to contribute as “THEY HELP MAKE AMERICA GREAT!”

Grand Marshal Stella Foster

“Stella’s Column,” which debuted in the Chicago Sun-Times on Dec. 2, 2003, is one of the newspaper’s most read features. Its popularity is a testimony to its author, Chicago journalist Stella Foster, who has enjoyed a career as a writer, broadcaster and long-time assistant to the late Irv Kupcinet, author of “Kup’s Column,” the longest-running nationally syndicated column of its kind.

Now with her own column in the same space once occupied by Kup’s, Stella Foster is leaving her own “Stellar” imprint on Chicago’s media landscape.

“Stella’s Column,” which runs every Tuesday and Thursday, reflects Stella’s personality, zest for life, compassion and love of people. It is an eclectic mix of news that spans every arena: sports, entertainment, politics and the arts. Stella also publicizes charitable events, particularly those that benefit causes that are close to her heart like child abuse, teenage pregnancy, black-on-black crime and women’s issues.

Born in Chicago and raised in the Englewood community, she attended Chicago’s public schools and then began pursuing a professional career. The serendipitous route that brought her to her current status as a highly respected journalist began in August of 1969 when Stella’s sister, Jamie Foster Brown, told her that the legendary Irv Kupcinet was looking for a new secretary. She interviewed for the position and was hired. She characterizes this as a “turning point” in her life.

For 34 years, Stella was Kup’s assistant, confidante and organizer, as well as the driving force that kept the column alive and vibrant. In her high-profile role, she interfaced with luminaries from all walks of life.

Stella’s writing career was officially launched in the mid-’80s when her brother-in-law, Dr. Lorenzo Brown, approached her about writing for Sister 2 Sister, a national entertainment magazine that he and his wife were starting. When the Sun-Times’ editorial page featured Personal Views, Stella contributed, expounding on a variety of topics that piqued readers’ curiosity and elicited diverse opinions.

Stella took her “act” to television when Fox News approached her about being a morning commentator. The weekly segment, titled “Stella Sez,” featured a mix of newsy nuggets that captivated viewers during the year it was on the air.

As Kup began to age, his health began to deteriorate and he was in the office less frequently. To keep the column alive, Stella began assuming the bulk of the writing duties. The Sun-Times recognized her contribution by giving her a byline at the end of the column, and eventually gave her co-writing credits.

Now hailed as a Chicago treasure, Stella’s gift for writing is matched only by her compassion. She uses the power and pull of her column to galvanize her readers and friends around key issues affecting the Chicagoland community.

She is also a passionate friend who counsels, dispenses advice and lends a helping hand. Each day, she performs an act of kindness, extends a favor and gives visibility to a cause. Her passion and dedication has been acknowledged by countless local organizations and news outlets.

(For a full profile, visit www.franoi.com, click on CLUBS at the bottom of the page, then click on Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans.)

Honorary Grand Marshal Florian Barbi

In May of this year, Florian J. Barbi celebrated his 40th year in Banking. Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of First Nations Bank and Bank of Bourbonnais, Florian has made it his life’s work not only to run a successful community bank, but to be one of the best in the business. First Nations Bank has been in existence for 36 years and servicing customers from its headquarters in Edison Park since 1997. It has branches in the Gladstone Park neighborhood of Chicago and Wheaton, Illinois, where Florian’s daughter, Anna Maria Garro, works as an Assistant Vice President of Lending. The Bank has three subsidiaries to better meet the broad range of financial needs of the community it serves. Nations Wealth Management and Financial Services, Inc. is managed by Lawrence Barbi (Florian’s son and the bank’s Financial Advisor) and offers brokerage, financial/estate planning, 401(k), long-term care insurance, land trust and living trust administration, and related services. Nations Title Company offers all real estate title services and construction escrow funding and Nations Tax Deferred Exchange Corp offers tax deferred 1031 exchanges.

Barbi was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was one year old. The family first settled in Melrose Park, but eventually moved to Elmwood Park, where his mother, Anna Maria, and father, Luigi, owned and operated an Italian grocery store and deli called Alpine Food Store, which flourished for 45 years. Most of Barbi’s childhood memories revolve around the store, as he and his parents worked hard, seven days a week and holidays, to make the business successful.

After graduating from Fenwick High School, Barbi enrolled at Benedictine University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in political science with a minor in business. While Barbi gained a formal education from his professors, he credits his parents with teaching him the most valuable lessons of all: honesty and integrity. “My parents managed to build a successful business by being honest, reputable people, so naturally I emphasize conducting business at the bank using the same values,” he says.

In 1972, Barbi began his career at Capitol Bank of Chicago, where he soon earned a position as Senior Vice President, Head of Lending. There, he took particular pride in helping small businesses like his parents’ deli get on their feet with loans and financial counsel. He later went on to head the lending department at First State Bank of Chicago. Two years after signing on with First Nations Bank, Barbi was instrumental in the acquisition of the Bank of Bourbonnais in 1993. In 1997, First Nations Bank added a branch on the far Northwest side of Chicago, Edison Park, in part to better serve his Italian American clientele. Florian enjoys talking with customers and helping them achieve whatever goal it is they’ve set for themselves. “I’ve been blessed because I’ve known that I wanted to be in banking and lending ever since I was a boy working at my parents’ small business,” says Barbi. In an industry that continues to be dominated by huge conglomerates, Florian Barbi continues to exemplify the values of the community bank, an institution that’s truly rooted in local life and business. His grassroots philosophy has served Barbi well throughout his career and to help his bank thrive.

Barbi has always been active in assisting many Italian Americans, some of them immigrants and first generation customers, in obtaining loans to begin or expand businesses, purchase homes or businesses, or send their children to college. Barbi has been a council member of Casa Italia and a member of the Order Sons of Italy in America. He has been involved with the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans for over fifteen years and held the title of First Vice President as his last. Barbi was a recipient of the Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Humanitarian Award in 2002 for his civic, social, and humanitarian services. In 2004, Barbi was awarded the Maroons Italo American Soccer and Cultural Club Man of the Year Award for his work in advancing the interest of the Italian American community. On the business front, Barbi served as the Treasurer of the Edison Park Chamber of Commerce for almost ten years and on the Board of Directors of the IBA (Illinois Bankers Association).

Florian Barbi and his wife, Dora, live in Deerfield. Their other daughter, Nicole Menotti, is a Special Education teacher with CPS. Florian’s grandchildren are Nico Luigi Menotti, Annina Nicole Garro, and Floriano Gaetano Garro.

Honorary Grand Marshal Frank Cerrone

Frank C. Cerrone, Pan American Bank Vice Chairman, President & Co-Chief Executive Officer, has an incredible combination of experience, knowledge, vision and passion for Banking. Using these valuable resources along with his aptitude to solidify past relationships while continuously creating new client bonds, has resulted in his significant role in the incredible success story of Pan American Bank.

A first-generation Italian-American, Mr. Cerrone credits his Italian heritage and his parents for showing him the meaning of determination. “Witnessing my Father and Mother work two or three jobs in order to pay for my schooling and put food on the table made me understand at a very early age the importance of hard work and my work ethic reflects that.” States Cerrone.

Mr. Cerrone began his banking career at a young age working miscellaneous jobs for a local community Bank. It was at that time that he realized the power of benevolence. Prior Banking positions Mr. Cerrone held include Compliance Officer, CRA Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Executive Vice President and President.

While continuing his banking career in 1995, Mr. Cerrone graduated from Elmhurst College specializing in Business and Finance. In the year 2000, Mr. Cerrone completed his master’s degree in Banking from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Outside of the office, Mr. Cerrone serves as director of the Community Development Bankers Association, a national trade association of the community development bank sector. Mr. Cerrone also serves as the Second Vice President of the Italian American Political Coalition, an organization that provides a political voice for the Italian American community. Mr. Cerrone is also a Director of the Columbian Club, an organization that promotes the adoption and the application of higher social, business, professional standards and civic welfare. Mr. Cerrone was a former Director of the Triton College Foundation. Cerrone also participates in several other organizations to promote community support and improvement.

Mr. Cerrone and his wife, Antonietta, feel strongly about keeping their Italian heritage alive. They do their best to teach their three sons, 7 year old Gino Joseph, 5 year old Marco Gaetano and 2 year old Luca Franco the Italian language, culture and the importance of family which is demonstrated at their weekly Sunday gatherings. They also travel to Italy as often as possible to expose their children to their roots and maintain tight bonds with family who live there.

Mr. Cerrone has been awarded the following awards:

The David Award in 2000 from the ITALO American National Union

The Man of The Year Award in 2006 from the Flowers of Italy

The Humanitarian Award in 2007 from the Order Sons of Italy

The Man of the Year Award in 2011 from the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Feast Committee

About Fra Noi

Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.