18th Avenue celebrates 30th Columbus Day Parade


The Columbus Day Parade will march down 18th Avenue for the 30thtime this Saturday, October 8. The day will kick off with a specialmass at St. Athanasius at 10:15 a.m., followed by a breakfastsponsored by Councilmember Domenic Recchia.

We are very proud, said parade chairperson Barbara Pascerella,adding that the parade starts at 60th Street and marches down toabout 84th Street.

Grand marshals this year are Willy Basso, president of Ben BayKiwanis; Karina Costantino, District 20’s community superintendent;and Richard Pileggi, retired deputy chief officer of the U.S.Department of Homeland Security.

Basso said he was happy to participate in an event in his owncommunity. It’s exciting to be a grand marshal and to keep theItalian-American heritage alive, especially along 18th Avenue wherethe demographic has been changing, he said, noting that theexperience is even sweeter since he is a Bensonhurst resident. Ihad a business, the Wedding Coach, for 45 years on the avenue thatclosed in September,2009. This is just very exciting.

Pileggi, who currently lives in Middletown, Delaware, but livedfor 56 years in Brooklyn and Staten Island, said he was honored tobe selected. My grandfather was born in Calabria and came to U.S.in 1920, he said. Here I am, a couple of generations removed,being one of the grand marshals. It’s quite humbling. It’s going tobe a wonderful experience and I am looking forward to it.

Also participating in the parade will be local schools andbands, including the Fort Hamilton High School band, the JamesMadison High School band, as well as the Mother Cabrini Schoolband, which travels all the way from Upper Manhattan.

We are so grateful to all of those who come out, Pascerellastated.

The parade culminates opposite the New Utrecht Reformed Churchat 84th Street. They raise both the American and Italian flag andplay both national anthems, Pascerella said. It’s really abeautiful sight to see.

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