One of the borough’s biggest parades has been forced to shorten its route - again.
The length of the upcoming 43rd annual Bronx Columbus Day Parade is being reduced for the second time in ten years.
This year’s parade, hosted by the Morris Park Community Association and its parade committee, will take place on Sunday, October 13, beginning at noon and kicking off at Bronxdale and Morris Park avenues.
In 2010, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD shortened the routes of all NYC parades by 25 percent and restricted parades to a maximum of five hours, in order to save over three million dollars in the city’s budget.
The Bronx Columbus Day Parade route originally ran from White Plains Road along Morris Park Avenue to Williamsbridge Road and then north to Lydig Avenue with the reviewing stand and bleachers set up between Neill and Lydig avenues. When the portion of the parade on Williamsbridge Road, from Morris Park to Lydig avenues was cut out of the parade route the NYC Parks Department reviewing stand was set up at Morris Park Avenue and Williamsbridge Road.
Earlier this year the MPCA parade committee was notified that a Park’s policy that went into effect recently would necessitate another route change.
According to Parks, “...(the agency’s) equipment rentals changed in 2018. The policy limited the set up of Parks equipment to be on Park property.” Parks cited insurance liability concerns for the new directive.
To accommodate the new policy this year’s parade route will begin at Bronxdale and Morris Park avenues proceed along Morris Park Avenue, turn north at Williamsbridge Road and end at the Pelham Parkway South service road, eliminating the parade march from White Plains Road to Bronxdale Avenue.
The traditional pre-parade Mass and breakfast at St. Dominic’s Church on Unionport Road had been a key element of the parade since it began over four decades ago. At press time a discussion was set to possibly keep the Mass at St. Dominic’s.
“The change in the parade route was a difficult thing to do - but it would have also been difficult (to hold the parade) if we didn’t make this change,” said Al D’Angelo, president of the MPCA. “In a perfect world, we would love to have the old parade route back, because the businesses who are now not a part of the parade will suffer.”
“Unfortunately, it’s a lose-lose scenario and it’s a situation where not everyone is going to be happy about this decision,” said Chris Alessandro, chairman of the Morris Park Columbus Day Parade Committee. “It’s a shame because this parade is a great tradition, not just for Italian Americans but for the entire neighborhood.”
Alessandro, who marched in the parade as a kid, has been involved with the parade committee for 13 years. This is his second year as the parade committee chairman. He added that the difficult decision to once again shorten the parade route was not meant to be a snub against any of the businesses below Bronxdale Avenue.
In May, the committee selected FDNY Captain Frank Vignali as the parade’s grand marshal. P.S./M.S. 498 principal Carol Ann Gilligan was selected as honorary grand marshal.