by Jo Ann Serpico
Each year, the theme of the Columbus Day Parade denotes strength and pride. This year, “2013: The Year of Italian Culture in the United States,” is no exception. This is a dynamic theme for a dynamic day. The Istituto Italiano di Cultura has planned various events throughout the year to promote the rich culture and traditions of Italy, and the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans is proud to play a part.
Making our annual celebration of our heritage great will be Parade Chairman Tony Durpetti, a past Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Humanitarian of the Year Award recipient and owner of the renowned Gene & Georgetti. A true benefactor, Tony is working diligently to encourage businesses and individuals to participate in our parade. Tony will lead the frontline along with JCCIA President Frank Cerrone and Italian Consul General Adriano Monti.
Leading the lively procession of floats, bands and marching units will be our honorary parade marshal, Dorothy Brown, Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court, with a special posthumous tribute being paid to beloved character actor Dennis Farina.
Our queen, Victoria Martello, has been crowned, and her court â€” Jessica Ciraldo, Giana Cesario, Nichelle Cesario, Rebecca Coglianese, Maria DiPrizio, Tonia Fricano, Norina Infusino, Jackie Pellegrino Miles, Deidre Moreschi, Angela Scavo Reynolds, Maria Iannotti Stuckell and Jessica Zarcone â€” is in place. Ashley Marcheschi Samato will play Queen Isabella, and John Trilla Duffy 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 the Shrine of Our Lady of 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 Frank Cerrone, as well as current and past officers of the JCCIA, Italian Consul General Adriano Monti 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 Mass, the Marist High School band will march into church trumpeting “America the Beautiful” and lead us to Arrigo Park. Once we’re assembled, Elmwood Park President Skip Saviano will officiate as OSIA leaders lay their ceremonial wreath before the statue of Columbus. Coffee, donuts and juice, compliments of Mariano’s Fresh Markets, 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 the children from the Chicago Public Schools who will not be able to observe the Columbus Day 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 this year again will be provided through the courtesy of Teamster’s Joint Council 25, 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 over to Gene & Georgetti for a post-parade reception, where we will enjoy pizza bread, house salad, sausage and peppers, chicken Vesuvio, meatballs, mostaccioli Ferrara and grilled vegetables, all for only $20. Wine, beer, soda, coffee and cookies are also included, with children age 14 and younger dining for free.
What an impressive way to celebrate “2013: THE YEAR OF ITALIAN CULTURE IN THE UNITED STATES!”