It was “Ciao America!” day in New York City on Monday, as thousands of people lined Fifth Avenue to watch the 65th Columbus Day Parade. Grand Marshall Kenneth G. Langone, founder of Home Depot, marched along side Mayor Michael Bloomberg, followed by a who’s who of New York’s politicians. New York Gov. David Paterson marched with his own entourage, keeping a good distance from unannounced Governor -hopeful, Andrew Cuomo. “It feels very Italian and it feels very American,” said Langone. “How much better it can be than that?” Even Sen. Chuck Schumer tried to sound Italian as he cheered the crowd.
But the person who excited the Italians among the crowds the most was Ignazio La Russa, Italy’s Minister of Defense, who waved an Italian flag with cries of “Viva Italia” and “Viva Berlusconi.” It seems that everybody in New York City knew “Ignazio.” Marching with him were his wife Laura, Italian Consul General Francesco M. Talo' , Amato Berardi, member of the Italian Parliament, and numerous other politicians.
Dozens of floats representing Italian American organizations were interspersed with more than a dozen high school marching bands and law enforcement groups. Among the national Italian American organizations represented at the parade were the floats sponsored by the Order Sons of Italy and UNICO. The parade included a number of groups representing individual Italian regions and cities, among them the Region of Veneto, which featured a couple depicting Romeo and Juliet, the city of Benevento, blasting traditional Italian-American music, a group representing the city of Carini in Sicily, led by that town’s Mayor, Gaetano La Fata, who came to New York for the occasion, and Salvatore Ferrigno, Intercomites Coordinator for the United States and former member of the Italian Parliament.
Other groups were representng professions such as the Columbian Lawyers Association.
The best voice of the parade, however, belonged to Italian American singer Giada Valenti, who sang Italian favorites to an enthusiastic crowd.
Langone summed up the day’s event when he said, “I hope that what this shows to the world is that the American Dream is alive and well.” (CiaoAmerica/Francesco Isgro, October 12, 2009)
Pictured from top, Italy's Minister of Defense Ignazio La Russa with his wife Laura; Francesca Alderisi of Sportello Italia; delegation from Carini, Sicily; Italian American singer Giada Valenti with Italian American photographer Vito Catalano.
[Photos by Francesco Isgro]