The sun shone brightly as the Federation of Italian American Organization (FIAO) hosted its annual Brooklyn Columbus Day Parade on Saturday, October 12 along 18th Avenue in Bensonhurst. The weather was remarkable and so was the outcome of the parade. Around 5,000 spectators were in attendance at the annual event, which drew participants from all over Brooklyn as well as all over the world.
Jack Spatola, the chairperson of FIAO and executive chairperson of the Brooklyn Columbus Day Parade, said the atmosphere was fabulous.
“We were very fortunate to have great weather and spectators and participants from all cultural backgrounds take part in the second largest Columbus Day Parade in the United States. It was great to have students from junior high schools in Dyker Heights and Canarsie and New Utrecht High School bands participate. We even had a band from Rome perform, which helps bridge the gap with Italy bringing its own culture and arts.”
Many elected and candidates were also in attendance, including Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hynes, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (who is running for comptroller, D.A. hopeful Ken Thompson and mayoral candidate Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
The day’s stars included Grand Marshals Father Michael Gelfant of St. Finbar Roman Catholic Church, Luigi Rosabianca, Len Tillman, and Principal Josephine Sportella-Giusto. “It feels good to have the servants of the public paying homage.” said Spatola.
Beyond parades, FIAO is a multi-faced organization that serves the broader community. “We serve all ethnic and cultural groups, and establish an environment of celebration and pride to improve the quality of life,” said Spatola when discussing the group’s efforts. The 32 year-old organization is also in the process of completing a $20 million community and cultural center in Brooklyn.