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Thousands show their Italian pride

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In a proud display of Italian American heritage, hundreds of Bronxites lined the street for the 33rd Annual Columbus Day Parade on Sunday, October 11.

The crowd cheered as dozens of bands, performers, floats, organizations, and schools proudly marched the route up Morris Park Avenue to Williamsbridge Road.

Now the second largest Columbus Day Parade in New York City, over 90 of New York’s Finest from the 49th Precinct were there to ensure the safety of all the spectators that were enjoying the warm sunny day in October.

Leading the parade to the stage were the grand marshal, John F. Calvelli, and the honorary grand marshal, Loretta Mangieri. Joining them on stage was the Deputy Council General of Italy, Laura Aghilarre, and marching in the parade was Mayor Antonio Montone of Castello Del Matese, a province of Caserta.

Other noteworthy appearances included a visit by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., members of Community Board 11, the Morris Park Community Association, council members Joel Rivera and Jimmy Vacca, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera and Senator Jeff Klein.

“This is important for two reasons,” said Klein. “First, we are celebrating the illustrious Italian American heritage. We are also celebrating the wonderful community of Morris Park, which is where I was born and raised. I personally believe we are better as a community if we remember who we are and where we came from.”

According to Tony Signorile, parade coordinator, one of the significant additions this year was the strong support from the armed forces and city and state agencies.

“We had the American Eagle Army Force, more military SUVs, and Highway One on motorcycles leading the parade,” said Signorile. “A big highlight for me was the NYC Police Department Color Guard Marching Band and the FDNY came with three trucks.”

During the concert at Loreto Park that followed the parade, over 500 people listened to the sounds of doo-wop, opera and the blues provided by Le Grande Entertainment.

“It was a good display of unity and pride for the Italian heritage,” said Signorile. “I think it showed the community is finally coming together to support each other.”

Signorile also wished to express his gratitude to the many staffers, sponsors and participants that made the parade a success.

“I am proud of my staff, in four years we have come a long way,” said Signorile. “We are really expanding and people are starting to know about us.”

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