Heartfelt congratulations to Phyliss Nastasio for her hard work and dedication in putting together a successful Bronx Columbus Day parade. Phyliss and her committee were able to raise money, secure bands and schools, order banners and floats, send invitations to our elected officials, and set the line of march. Not an easy task when you have nine months to prepare; Phyliss did it in less than three.
A special thank you goes out to Councilman Mark Gjonaj for making sure the Italian and American flags were positioned along the parade route. Mark also supplied free hotdogs and popcorn to everyone. This parade would not have been possible if it weren’t for our donors, many of whom took a major financial loss during the past 18 months, yet sacrificed so the community could come together for a happy occasion. This year our grand marshalls represented our first responders — NYPD represented by Steven Brancatelli, Nurses represented by Suzanne Pennachio, Teachers represented by Loretta Zaino, EMT represented by Chief Austin Rodriguez, FDNY represented by Matt DeRoso, DSYN Matt Bruno and food store workers represented by Andy Osorio from Big Deal Supermarket.
Congratulations to Isabella Vento from Preston High School who was selected this year’s Miss Columbus and received the Morris Park Community Association scholarship. Miss Columbus was wearing a gown donated by Louise from Gowns by Louise, who has supported us every year since we crowned our first Miss Columbus more than 10 years ago. The rain did not deter the marchers, but it did deter the onlookers; the crowd was smaller but just as lively.
We also would like to thank the elected officials who were in attendance. Regardless of politics, these men and women went out of their way to help us celebrate Columbus Day: Mayor Bill de Blasio, District Attorney Darcel Clark, City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, state Assemblyman Mike Benedetto, Councilman Mark Gjnoaj, Tom Lucania and John Fratta — past Community Board 11 district managers and Rev. Irene Estrada were also in attendance. The conspicuous absence of state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (whose grandfather Mario Biaggi never missed a parade) and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the senator and congresswoman didn’t even have the courtesy to respond to our invitation. Other elected officials did send regrets and best wishes for a successful parade. The Morris Park Community Association Patrol members were on hand to make sure everything ran smoothly and a special thank to our friends in the Yeminis community for supplying tents and manpower to help make this a successful parade.