The 41st Annual Bronx Columbus Parade will step off this Sunday.
The parade will make its way on Morris Park Avenue from White Plains Road to a reviewing stand at Williamsbridge Road. It steps off at noon on Sunday, October 8.
The parade has blossomed into the second largest Columbus parade in New York State, only eclipsed in size by Manhattan’s parade, which takes place the next day, according to parade coordinator Tony Signorile.
This year’s honorees include grand marshal Councilman James Vacca, honorary grand marshal and P.S. 72 teacher Lucia Mariani, who owns Lucca Restaurant, and Citizenship Award winners John Bonizio and Michael Ungaro of Metro Optics.
Jessica Morrone was recently selected as Miss Columbus. She is senior at Preston High School and is from Throggs Neck.
She will be receiving a college scholarship from the Generoso Pope Foundation, and was crowned at the parade’s annual dinner dance on Friday, September 29.
Morrone told the Bronx Times that her Italian teacher at Preston encouraged her to apply to the contest, which selects from a pool of applicants from around the borough.
“My Italian teacher really pushed me to do it; she said I had a good shot at winning it,” said Morrone. “My teacher ultimately nominated me and gave me the application.”
A panel of three educators selects the finalists and winners, said Tony Signorile, the parade coordinator, in a previous Bronx Times article.
This year’s essay topics asked applicants to describe an Italian-American who was influential in their lives, and to discuss how Italian-American heritage has shaped the young adult they’ve become.
Morrone said that she wrote about her grandmother, who emigrated from Sicily to the United States with her grandfather when she was 20-years-old.
She said that she wrote about her grandmother’s experience as an immigrant, building a new life in the United States with her husband and eventually having three children. She has been especially influential in Morrone’s life.
“I wrote about my grandma and how she continuously inspired me and how she instilled the values of family and education,” said Morrone.
Morrone explained that her grandmother always urged her mother to do well in school in order to have a better life that she had, and that was what both of her parents have urged her to do.
This year’s Miss Columbus said that she attended the parade with her school’s Italian Club and that she had always admired her predecessors in the role. Morrone said she is honored to be a part of the parade in this way.
“It is an honor to me because I have been chosen to represent young Italian-American women in the community,” said Morrone.
Signorile said that despite some current controversy concerning the role of Christopher Columbus and what he represents, Columbus Day is an important holiday for the entire country and one that celebrates Italian-American heritage.
“He opened the gates for all immigrants,” said Signorile of the parade’s namesake.
Members of the Columbus Citizens Foundation will be marching, said Signorile.
John Fratta, former Community Board 11 district manager, will be marching and representing the Sons of Italy.
After the parade, at 5:30 p.m in Loreto Park, there will be a doo-wop concert featuring the band Just Us, said Signorile.