Morris Park gears up for Columbus Day Parade

A Morris Park favorite, the Bronx Columbus Day Parade approaches and everyone is thrilled, from residents to students, and even out-of-towners.

The parade will take place on Sunday, October 10 and will kick off around noon or, according to the parade committee president Tony Signorile, as soon as the Mayor arrives. Signorile cautioned, however, that parade participants like bands and schools will have to be in formation by 10:30 a.m.

Although this year’s parade has seen some city cuts to the budget and distance, Signorile said there remains much to be excited for. That includes extra treats like a concert by the Bronx Wonders in Loreto Park at 5:30 p.m. after the parade, and of course the annual dinner dance at Maestro’s on Friday, October 1, at 7 p.m. The dinner costs $75 a person.

Signorile said that all the puzzle pieces for the parade are coming together. The grand marshal, honorary marshal, and citizen’s award recipient have all been announced — they are Dom Castore, Charles Sperrazza, and Ben Buccieri, respectively — and all that remains is for the committee to choose its Miss Columbus.

The Miss Columbus process is a detailed one, and Signorile said that this year, the committee received 25 applications, which is more than in past years.

“We have it down to a final three and will make a selection by the end of the week,” Signorile said on Monday, September 20.

Dom Castore, chairman of CB 11, caught up with the paper a couple weeks back. He expressed pride in his 31 years of service to the board, and also noted, “I have one of the best district managers in the whole world, that helps.” Since that time, he and the board have learned that district manager John Fratta will actually be retiring, which is sure to make this Columbus Day Parade only more meaningful.

Charles Sperrazza, principal of P.S. 108 the Philip J. Abinanti School, said that he was surprised and honored to be chosen for a central role, after years of working with Signorile on the parade plans.

“I was speechless,” said Sperrazza. “It was something I really didn’t expect. I’m flattered that they asked me to do this.”

Sperrazza said that he always tries to enlist a couple of his family members to come to the parade with him, and in addition that students from P.S. 108 that come to the parade over the weekend will receive a special “one dress-down day” coupon, which will allow them to dress in casual clothes on a schoolday of their choosing.

“The parade is something that everyone gets excited about,” he said. “I go every year, and people always have a good time, get good exercise, and exhibit real community spirit.”

Signorile said that he selected Charles to serve as the honorary marshal because, “He’s been there a few years now, and he has been a tremendous asset for the school and for the kids. That school got better under him.”

Ben Buccieri, who will receive the annual citizen’s award, was unavailable for comment, but Signorile explained: “We chose Ben because he does a lot for community kids and seniors. He has sponsored a Van Nest Little League team for like 25 years, and he’s also involved with supporting St. Francis Xavier church.”

As long as the weather is nice, throngs are sure to come out for the parade, which starts at White Plains Road and Morris Park Avenue.

Signorile, ever-concerned with safety, also wanted to remind community merchants to remove their vehicles on the day of the parade by 9:30 a.m.

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