Cristoforo Colombo Boulevard, also known as 18th Avenue, became the stage for Italian-Americans celebrating the 31st annual Columbus Parade in Bensonhurst.
It felt like summer on October 6 with temperatures well above 70 degrees as hundreds of spectators came out to make history and watch close to 50 groups march on a route that commenced at 60th Street and concluded at a stage set up at 84th Street. Antique cars and red, white and green banners, flags and festoons dominated the strip.
Bravo for keeping our Italian heritage alive, exclaimed Carlo Scissura, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerces new president, from the stage, while congratulating the participants. School groups like Bishop Kearneys marching band put on a special performance, and members of the Congrega Maria ss. Addolorata waved at the standing crowd that gathered.
Frank Naccarato, president of the Federation of Italian-American Organizations of Brooklyn (FIAO), said that its an honor for the community to celebrate our great culture, and remember all the contributions that the Italians made to this country. Hes proud to be passing on the traditions.
Sal Vincent and Eddie Torres, neighbors for years, stood out from amongst the large crowd, clapping and cheering for the participating veterans and paying their respects. Torres stepfather is in the military and he says that without them, We wouldnt be here.
The avenue comes out, showing that were still together, noted Vincent.
Italian-American Teresa Kelly, used to meet her parents on 18th Avenue for the parade; she made it a tradition to enjoy it with her two daughters, now 27 and 29, and many decades later, with her kids all grown-up, Kelly walks out and still stands and reminisces about all the memories she has. It bridges generations.
Without your Italian traditions, you lose your identity, added Vincent P., from FIAO.
The parade was a success with over 1,200 people attending and keeping the traditions alive.
Isabel DiMola, community superintendent of District 21; William Guarinello, president and chief executive officer of HeartShare Human Services and chairperson of Community Board 11; and Nicholas Miraglia, funeral director of Miraglia Funeral Home and a CB 11 member, led the way as grand marshals.