Mark your calendars – the Bronx Columbus Day Parade is coming up on Sunday, October 8!
The 41st annual parade will step off at noon, marching on Morris Park Avenue from White Plains Road to Williamsbridge Road.
At Williamsbridge Road there will be a reviewing stand that will include dignitaries and elected officials.
The annual celebration of Italian-American unity and civic pride will not be marred by the current debate about Columbus’ role in history, indicated parade coordinator Tony Signorile.
Signorile said that because of the controversy surrounding a city-wide commission studying statues and monuments for possible removal, including a statue of Columbus in Columbus Circle in Manhattan, the parade won’t be inviting Mayor de Blasio to march in this year’s parade.
On a more upbeat note, Signorile said that the parade, which has grown into the second largest in New York State, is getting so big it is now attracting interest outside of the borough’s borders. A number of groups from surrounding counties will be marching, he said.
“I am proud that this year for the first time we are having a band from Mahopac High School coming to our parade,” said Signorile. “As we all know by now, we are the second largest Columbus parade and many people want to come to the Bronx.”
As of press time, at least 15 marching bands will be taking part in the festivities.
The parade committee selected Jessica Morrone as this year’s Miss Columbus within the past week, said the parade coordinator.
Morrone, who attends Preston High School, will be receiving a college scholarship from the Generoso Pope Foundation, said Signorile.
She will be joining this year’s grand marshal, term-limited Councilman James Vacca, honorary grand marshal and P.S. 72 educator Lucia Mariani, and Citizenship Award winners John Bonizio and Michael Ungaro of Metro Optics as honorees during the parade.
The citizenship award is given every year to businesspeople that support the parade and the community, said Signorile.
Bonizio, who grew up in Morris Park and lived on Wallace Avenue from 1963 to 1980, said he owes a lot to his community.
“I grew up in the neighborhood and learned most of what I know from the streets of Morris Park,” said Bonizio. “It is really an honor to be walking or riding in the parade as a businessman.”
Bonizio said that his goal in professional life was to achieve a level of business know-how where he could create jobs and contribute to the community.
“It is nice to know after succeeding that the community recognizes Metro Optics,” said Bonizio. “It is not about me; it is about the company.”
Metro Optics has been a big supporter of the parade, as has outgoing Councilman James Vacca.
Signorile stressed that Vacca is being honored as an Italian-American and Bronxite and not as an elected official.
“He has helped seniors, he started an Italian class and he’s been a big donor to the parade,” said Signorile.
“I believe that this parade signifies the pride of the Italian-American community and the history that this community has in the Bronx,” said the councilman in a Bronx Times interview in August. “As an Italian-American legislator, I want that parade to grow and (stay) a permanent fixture in (the Bronx)”