2013-10-23 / Features

FIAO Holds 36th Annual Columbus Day Parade

Catherina Gioino

On October 12, hundreds of people lined the streets of Astoria to march in the Federation of Italian American Organizations of Queens 36th Annual Columbus Day Parade.

Natalia Quintavalle, who is the Italian Consul General of New York, was the Grand Marshall of the parade. The parade included dozens of local politicians and candidates including former city Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr., Councilmembers Peter Vallone Jr. and Jimmy Van Bramer, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Queens Borough President candidate Tony Arcabascio and District 22 councilmember candidates Costa Constantinides and Danielle De Stefano. There were also numerous local organizations including various schools like the ROTC program at Aviation and Long Island City High Schools as well as St. John’s Prep. The Hellgate Road Runners and Learn Italia were also in attendance as well as other community groups.

Due to Kaufman Studios expanding into an outdoor lot, there was a mishap as to where the marchers should meet. The crowd waited as the bands started to practice in the parking lot of PC Richards a block away on Steinway and 35th Avenue, and then were sent back to enter the Kaufman parking lot. From there, the parade started by making a right to Steinway and down until 30th Avenue. They then made a right at 33rd street and ended the parade in front of the Christopher Columbus statue on Astoria Blvd.

President of the Federation Joe Dipietro stated, “This is our 36th Annual parade. This year the Grand Marshall was Natalia Quintavalle, who I would like to thank. I’d like to thank the 114 precinct for keeping us safe and helping with the parade. This year was probably one of largest parade that we’ve ever had. It’s a beautiful day and see you all next year.”

Simotas, who was also in attendance, stated, “We’re here for the Columbus Day Parade. It’s an annual tradition here in Astoria. Not only are there Italian Americans but people from all different kinds of backgrounds come to celebrate Italian heritage and the wonderful story of Christopher Columbus. This country is a country of immigrants, Astoria in particular is full of immigrants. It’s just a wonderful day to come out here and show our ethnic pride. What’s important about parades like this is to teach the new generation about diversity, about tolerance, about the contributions that different ethnicities made to communities and built them as strong as they are today. I’m here with my daughter who’s 14 months old and this is her second Columbus Day Parade- she was here last year and I’m just so proud that we have these wonderful children out here celebrating this wonderful tradition. We have to make sure that we keep this tradition alive.”

Queens Borough President candidate Tony Arcabascio also spoke about the parade. “I’m here to celebrate the Columbus Day Parade. As an Italian and the sons of immigrants-my mom was pregnant with me when she came to this country. English is my second language and this is my culture and heritage. I would like to see a huge parade that takes place and moves every year throughout Queens, not just have all these little fragments because we are a proud culture and there are a lot of Italians that are scattered throughout Queens. It would be nice to get them all together and have one big parade.”

Costa Constantinides said, “I’m here to celebrate Italian Culture and Heritage. It’s a beautiful day and the Italian community has done so much in this neighborhood and they’re hardworking people that came to this country and made Astoria a much better place and I’m here to celebrate their contributions today.”


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