PHOTOS: 36th Brooklyn Columbus Parade marches through Bensonhurst

A Bensonhurst tradition marches on.

The 36th Annual Brooklyn Columbus Parade kicked off on Saturday, October 7 along 18th Avenue (a.k.a. Cristoforo Colombo Boulevard).

The parade’s grand marshals chosen by the Federation of Italian-American Organizations (FIAO) were Councilmember Mark Treyger, Deputy Inspector Anthony Sanseverino, Nick Pesce of LaBella Market Place and P.S./I.S. 209 Principal Francesca Novella LoCurcio. The three were honored prior to the holiday weekend on Sunday, October 1 at Sirico’s, 8023 13th Avenue, at FIAO’s annual pre-parade brunch.

Jack Spatola, chairperson of FIAO, has noted in the past that the parade and brunch provide, “not only a celebration of culture, but also an opportunity for us to recognize very outstanding exponents of the community who also happen to be Italian-American. All are incredible role models, inspirational for all of us and particularly younger people.”

“It was a wonderful honor to be one of the grand marshals at the Columbus Day parade along 18th Avenue, which means a lot to me personally because it brings me back to my family’s story,” Treyger told this paper. “I am the son of Ukrainian immigrants and we grew up on Bay Parkway by 61st Street right by St. Athanasius Church and my first friend on the block happened to be Italian. His family took me in as if I was their own family and introduced me to delicious Sunday dinners and they reinforced values that I saw in my own home like faith, family and community.”

The honor he said, was twofold. “It was a wonderful time and a wonderful way to pay tribute to the contributions of Italian-Americans here in New York, around the country and really around the world,” the pol went on, commending also his fellow honorees. “[They] really represent the pillars of our community.”

As for the festivities themselves, Treyger noted, “It was a great time and the weather cooperated.”

The pre-parade mass was celebrated at St. Athanasius Church, 2154 61st Street, at 10:15 a.m. The parade followed, kicking off at noon at the corner of 60th Street and 18th Avenue. It ended at the corner of Benson and 18th Avenues, at FIAO’s Il Centro Community Center, the forthcoming home-base for the organization that’s been under construction for years. Closer than ever to its opening, local dignitaries were treated to a tour of the center following the festivities.

The center, Treyger said, is “the first of its kind” here in the community.

“In my opinion, the opening of Il Centro is monumental in recognizing the contributions of Italian-Americans right here in Brooklyn,” he said.

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