Columbus Day Celebration
Precisely at noon on Saturday, October 11, the 29th annual Queens Columbus Day parade sponsored by the Federation of Italian American Organizations of Queens (FIAOQ) stepped off from the Kaufman Astoria Studios, 34-12 36th St., Astoria. New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli headed the line of march as Grand Marshal.
Admiral of the Ocean Sea Christopher Columbus also marched, as did his financial backer, Queen Isabella of Spain (in real life Mike and Theresa Meoni). The Admiral and Her Majesty were joined by Former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr., Assemblymember Michael Gianaris, Parade Chairman Jerry Iannece, former Community Board 11 chairman, state Senator George Onorato, City Councilmember Eric Gioia, FIAOQ Executive Director Angie Markham, Queens County Clerk Gloria D'Amico, FIAOQ President Joseph DiPietro, and Deputy Inspector Paul E. Vorbeck, 114th Police Precinct commanding officer.
Miss New York American Teenager Maria Concetta Sacchetti waved to the crowds lining the parade route from a float festooned with American and Italian flags and with models of Columbus' three ships, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. As has been the case for a number of years, Angelo Bonsangue drove his l962 Buick convertible in the parade and members of the Fiat Club of America drove their Italian-made cars as well.
As in previous years, the parade wound its way along 34th Avenue from 36th Street to Steinway Street, left from Steinway Street onto 30th Avenue and right from 30th Avenue to 33rd Street to end at the reviewing stand at the Columbus Triangle at Astoria Boulevard and 31st Street. Italian Vice Consul Giovanni Favilli greeted the marchers at the Columbus Triangle and the Banda di Suvereto, visiting from Italy for this occasion, played the Italian national anthem as well as the Star Spangled Banner. FIAOQ officers and the visiting dignitaries and elected officials also laid a wreath at the base of the statue of Columbus to mark the day.
On Sept. 30, 2007, the corner of 32nd Street and Astoria Boulevard at the apex of the Columbus Triangle in Astoria was officially dedicated and co-named as Cav. Vincenzo Iannece Corner in memory of the late Vincent Iannece, father of Jerry Iannece and Angie Markham and Mary Dawber, a New York City schoolteacher. Iannece founded the FIAOQ in 1972 and served as its president and executive chairman; he also presided at the parade. The Republic of Italy honored his dedication and accomplishments by bestowing the title of Cavaliere on Iannece in 2004, and that same year he was given a City Council Proclamation during Italian Culture Month. The renaming took place two years after his death at age 80 in 2005.