42nd Annual Columbus Parade honors educator

Carl Vinci, an educator who worked on the Project Boost program and originally comes from the borough, will be the Bronx Columbus Day Parade’s grand marshal.
Photo courtesy of Carl Vinci

The 42nd Annual Bronx Columbus Day Parade will once again honor one of the many teachers in the community who impact our children’s lives.

When the Bronx Columbus Day Parade steps off at noon at the corner of Morris Park Avenue and White Plains Road on Sunday, October 7, several honorees, including Carl Vinci, a life-long educator from the borough, will be honored.

The parade, a celebration of community and Italian-American heritage, runs along Morris Park Avenue from White Plains to Williamsbridge roads.

This year it honors Christopher Mastromano, Jacobi Medical Center executive director, as its grand marshal.

The honorary grand marshal is a familiar face to the borough’s educational scene, as Carl Vinci tells the Bronx Times that up until last year he led the Project Boost program, an enrichment program that can be found in local public schools including P.S. 83, P.S. 89, P.S. 105 and P.S. 72.

Vinci said that his Italian-American heritage means a great deal to him, and that he now sees the importance of its sense of togetherness because it is missing in so many modern families today.

“We had a really close-knit family, and I see that is important now because families aren’t that close anymore,” said Vinci.

He said that when he was growing up on East 215th Street in Williamsbridge, and later in Yonkers, he and his family never missed a meal sitting together at dinner.

“We talked to one another,” he remembered of the meals, saying that he also took away from his Italian-American heritage the Catholic faith, the strength of tradition, and a belief that families should look out and stick up for each other.

The idea of sharing a meal and breaking bread was something he used later on in his educational career. He would bring in bagels to have breakfast with up to a dozen youngsters some mornings in order to have an opportunity to learn more about their lives and aspirations.

Vinci was a NYC Board of Education teacher for seven years in Brooklyn and then the next 27 years in East Harlem.

He later served as a superintendent’s special assistant, an attendance teacher making home visits to discourage truancy, and an educational consultant.

Before teaching, he was a collegiate basketball player at Indiana University and Long Island University.

He made an impact on the local community through Project Boost, an enrichment program that is funded by Senator Jeff Klein, where youth get to experience things that they might not otherwise see.

As part of Project Boost, 7,000 kids from across the city have seen Broadway plays; they visit museums, cultural institutions and colleges; and go on trips to places like Washington D.C.

“It is a program where we expose our kids to things they wouldn’t otherwise see,” he said of Project Boost, noting that he and the non-profit that runs the program have since parted ways.

He has two sons, and believes he would be making his parents proud if they could see him now, and is hoping for good weather on the parade day.

The parade planning is going well, said Morris Park Community Association president Al D’Angelo. The Miss Columbus youth scholarship winner will be selected around the time this story is published.

The MPCA is in charge of the parade.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com.

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