The Federation of Italian-American Organizations of Brooklyn hosted a luncheon at Sirico’s banquet hall this Sunday, honoring their five Brooklyn Columbus Parade Grand Marshals. The title, bestowed on Italian-Americans who have contributed to the Brooklyn community, was awarded this year to Minister Plenipotentiary Fracesco Genuardi, Consul General of Italy; Cavalier Salvatore Cumella, Executive Vice President of Lenco Diagnostic Laboratory; Captain Anthony Longobardi, Commanding Officer of the 82nd Precinct; Robert Ciuella, Principal at Dyker Heights Intermediate School; and Denise Daniello, Director of Admissions at Bensonhurst Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare.
“It was wonderful to honor these unbelievable people that we chose to be the marshals this year,” said Nancy Scottile, Executive Director of The Federation of Italian-American Organizations of Brooklyn. “When the community called, they went the extra mile. We are very proud of them.”
Attended by elected officials such as Senator Andrew Gounardes, Congressman Max Rose and councilmen Justin Brannan and Mark Treyger, the event consisted of speeches by the grand marshals and fundraising for the parade’s bands. Each of the Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge based community heroes are either first or second generation Italian with the exception of the Consul General, who was born in Italy. In their speeches, they celebrated their Italian heritage and compared the stories their parents and grandparents had told them about Brooklyn’s past to the growing, diversifying, and flourishing Brooklyn they see today.
Donned in sashes provided by the nonprofit, Grand Marshals will march at the front of the parade this Saturday in The Federation of Italian-American Organizations’ 38th Brooklyn Columbus Parade, which celebrates the man who sailed the ocean blue in 1492. They will then sit in the front row facing the stage at the end of the parade.
On the day that’s come to recognize the legacy and value Italian-American heritage and culture in the country, the Brooklyn Columbus Day parade will kick off at 61st Street and 18th Avenue in Bensonhurst, and will fittingly end in front of Il Centro, the nonprofit’s multicultural community center in Bath Beach.
While the parade’s Grand Marshals are Italian-American, Scottile emphasized that members of all Brooklyn’s cultural communities will be participating.
“Our federation isn’t just about Italians” said Scottile. “Every community initiative we host - including the parade - is about celebrating the diverse cultures of the whole community. It’s for everybody. That’s the whole beauty of it.”