The 42nd Annual Bronx Columbus Day Parade, an event that is part of the fabric of borough civic life, is coming up soon.
The parade, which is a celebration of community pride and Italian-American heritage, is scheduled to step off at noon on Sunday, October 7, the day before Columbus Day, on Morris Park Avenue at White Plains Road and march to a reviewing stand at Williamsbridge Road.
The parade committee in coordination with the Morris Park Community Association, has chosen the Christopher Mastromano, Jacobi Medical Center executive director and CEO, as the parade grand marshal, said Chris Alessandro, the parade’s coordinator.
As is the case each year, the honorary grand marshal for the parade will be and educator: Carl Vinci, NYC Department of Education director of student services, said Alessandro.
Alessandro said that the Morris Park Community Association, which runs the parade, uses as its criteria for selecting a grand marshal a person who is civically engaged and who has given back to the community.
“It’s an honor to have been selected to be the grand marshal of the Bronx Columbus Day Parade,” said Mastromano. “My Italian heritage is something very dear to me.”
Mastromano said that many immigrants who are coming to the United States today, and like them, his ancestors suffered from and had to overcome discrimination.
He said he was proud of his ancestors, adding he is proud to work in the public hospital system where all patients are treated regardless of where they came from and how they arrived here.
Mastromano’s grandfather, an Italian immigrant, also worked for the city’s public hospital system in Brooklyn, according to a hospital spokesman.
Vinci told the Bronx Times that he had thought for years being honored in the parade would be a great honor, especially when he saw a friend of his march proudly as a grand marshal.
“I thought it was very special as an Italian-American to be honored,” said Vinci, adding “I was a little taken aback by it.”
Alessandro said that typically 10 to 15 schools, mainly from the community, but also a few from the outside, march in the parade.
There are currently 16 bands that are under contract to participate in the parade, an increase over last year’s 14, said Alessandro.
He said he also expects half a dozen Italian-American organizations to march, along with community groups from nearby neighborhoods such as those from Allerton and Pelham Parkway, and many other organizations.
“This is to keep the tradition alive, and it is great to see people out in the streets marching,” said Alessandro. “It is just a day to bring the community together and to have a good time.”
Al D’Angelo, MPCA president, said that Alessandro is doing a fine job in his first year as the parade leader.
“Chris has done an outstanding job,” said D’Angelo, adding he believes the parade will have more bands and floats than in some previous years.