Italian Iced–City’s Cop Costs Force Columbus Parade To Shelton

Paoletta Columbus
Former Mayor Lenny Paoletta waves to crowd at 2014 Columbus Parade down Madison Avenue. Paoletta served as parade marshal.

Community-organized parades and non-profit festivals must reinvent themselves, especially when high security costs become a factor. Organizers of the century-long Columbus weekend festivities, citing cop overtime details, are moving the October street parade from Madison Avenue to suburban-like Shelton where Mayor Mark Lauretti, who has deep roots in Bridgeport and served as the parade’s grand marshal last year, will have his taxpayers cover the cost. Organizers of the Barnum Festival relocated the annual street parade this year from the North End to Seaside Park, one of P.T. Barnum’s gifts to the city, citing less intrusive expenses in the confined park area.

Quantico band
Quantico Marine Band

Lauretti told the Connecticut Post that the parade will take place on Oct. 7, which is also Shelton Day, so many of the streets that need to be shut down will be closed, not adding to his city’s own cop costs.

Will it return to Bridgeport next year?

“Look, there’s a lot of Italian Americans in this valley who moved here from Bridgeport that appreciate this tradition. There’s a possibility it may be here next year. We’ll see.”

Lauretti Columbus
Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti will host Columbus Parade. He was the 2017 grand marshal. Photo: Vic Eng / Hearst Connecticut Media Group

Mayor Joe Ganim issued this statement:

“The city has made every effort since 2017 to work with the Columbus Day Parade Committee to continue to keep the parade in Bridgeport. We have been supportive of the parade and committee needs as we are with all city parades and organizations and have offered means for them to meet the cost of police, security, and public facilities operations to ensure a safe and successful event. We are looking forward to hosting an Italian American Festival in Bridgeport Columbus Day weekend to honor the tradition.”

Former state representative and two-time mayoral candidate Chris Caruso has been imploring the city to cover the costly police security detail. The city has cracked down on organizers for the coverage that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. More than $7,000 is owed the city from last year.

The city’s policy, enacted two years ago, covers 50 percent of the police overtime costs for festivals and parades that require street shutdowns and security details based on routes worked out between organizers and city police. Police overtime costs became a flashpoint for the Gathering of the Vibes music festival at Seaside Park during the Bill Finch mayoral years when hundreds of thousands of dollars in police costs piled up without vendor payment.

All other Columbus-related events will take place in Bridgeport such as the free Quantico Marine Corps concerts at the Klein Memorial auditorium, 910 Fairfield Avenue. For tickets Oct. 5 and 6 see here.

For Jay Piccirillo, owner of the legendary Micalizzi’s Italian Ice on Madison Avenue it’s a bittersweet moment in more ways than one. For years Micalizzi’s has been the centerpiece of the street festival.

“I am disappointed that the legacy and nostalgia of the 110-year parade is leaving Madison Ave as over the years has created magical memories for my family and many in the North End of Bridgeport. It ended at Micalizzi’s with a mini street Festa and celebration. That is gone now. However, I am supporting the move and asking everyone to do the same. It will be a great day for Shelton and many Bridgeport residents have moved there over the years and will get to enjoy it. As the old saying goes, “the show must go on.”

All events related to Columbus Day are staying in Bridgeport; only the parade is being moved. This year’s Grand Marshal Commander Rich Iannucci and all his staff and chair people are working vigorously on all events doing a great job.

Mayor Mark Lauretti and his colleagues have welcomed the 110 year parade into their town offering as much assistance as possible. On my end, I am not mad at anyone just disappointed but will always support both the City Of Bridgeport and The Columbus Day Parade Committee regardless of where the parades ends up.”

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31 comments

  1. What a disgrace, and the DTC stooges are already trying to pin it on Chris. The thieving worm in City Hall and the leech of Madison Avenue stick another dagger in the city’s heart. I don’t blame them for moving the parade to the Valley; I’ll be there and I hope Ganim and Testa won’t be. In fact, they should be told they’re not welcome. Go have a party in Easton.

  2. I heard Chris Caruso recently on a radio broadcast saying the parade was planned for Wayne Street. This must have been a recent decision.

    Madison Avenue was once touted as Bridgeport’s ‘Little Italy’ or ‘Macaroni Mile’. Only one Italian restaurant left – Testo’s. Now Sorrento’s is leaving.

    Demographics have changed. People do not identify with ethnicity as much as they once did but still like to pay tribute in some way to families that once called Bridgeport home.

    Maybe an illegal aliens parade can be organized.

  3. Mayor Ganim you and Mario Testa found $57,000 to pay Steven Auerbach for being a kiss ass to the both of you guys then there shouldn’t be any problem finding for the Columbus Day Parade and the few other parades that celebrate their heritage and culture. I know one tying you will have your ass marching in all of these parades looking for voters to vote for you.

    1. So right Ron. And to think, the little guy, the one that got off the boat from Italy, doesn’t have an iota of pride for his heritage. I hear the dispute was over $7,000 owed from last year’s police coverage. That’s chump change to him, him and our Mayor. I’ll bet they spent that on “entertainment” while they vacationed in Cuba.

  4. I feel ethnic type parades are a thing of the past. If a group wants to have one they should be on the hook for the police, clean-up and all the costs that go for running it. Bridgeport has enough problems; until the schools are 100% including a return of Paraprofessionals, we can forgo parades.

  5. Are you looking to blame the parade’s demise in Bridgeport on someone? How about the Director of OPM and City Finance Director along with Mayor Finch? That is where Police OVertime, already under scrutiny with a Deputy Chief tasked with OT control, went on steroids.

    See whether the individuals I mention above bothered to inform the City Council, the media, or just plain old taxpayers, that the movement of Plan B Fire and Police participants to MERS automatically created a benefit for personnel and a very significant expansion of City expense to create additional pension contributions?? The current administration has kept closed lips as well, sitting with a labor contract that does not allow them to increase charges to public and private companies for whom OT is extended by the PD. Why are secrets like this kept from the public…initially and over time? Had their been a referendum would folks have approved of this additional feature and expense of our external overtime budget? Time will tell.

  6. *** Why not move all the Bpt. parades to Seaside Park; its alot more easier to contain & if you get bus shuttles leaving from different available parking areas of Bpt. it also cuts down on the traffic, no? Theres lots of empty parking lots in bpt. that can be used for parade goers!***

  7. I am personally glad that there isn’t going to be a Columbus Day parade held in a city that boasts 74% nonwhite population. I further think that all vestiges of him should be removed from Bridgeport and Connecticut. If Christopher Columbus were alive today, he would be put on trial for crimes against humanity. Columbus’ reign of terror, as documented by noted historians, was so bloody, his legacy so unspeakably cruel, that Columbus makes a modern villain like Saddam Hussein look like a pale codfish.

    Columbus saw profit in enslaving and selling native peoples kidnapped from Caribbean shores. Once he made allies among what he called “good Indians,” Columbus advocated fighting and enslaving native groups he presumed to be cannibals. By 1500, he and his brothers had sent nearly 1,500 enslaved islanders to European markets to be sold. Even “friendly” indigenous peoples were forced to mine gold en masse, speeding death from malnourishment, overwork and disease. A parade for this man, PLEASE!!

    1. Day, I’ll agree with you on the sentiment, but it’s wrong to blame Italian Heritage, celebration marked as Columbus Day for the savagery of what the Spain did to the indigenous people of the New world. Just like it’s somewhat wrong to blame America for the slave trade that was done by England and the Europeans. America, the country, didn’t ever exist, and its fought the bloodiest American war to end it. There’s reason why why those indigenous people speak a form of Spanish, and American speak English. That Being said Italians sure can pick’em 🙂 PS when did a minority group not have a voice? I will say this though if it every comes back it should be Italian Heritage Day, not Columbus Day or not Indigenous Day. If there should be a Indigenous Day is should be on August 3 when the New World was discovered. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oubZvz8E-JM

        1. But since the they are somewhat a dissing to the city with no loyalty to keep a century old tradion maybe it should be change to Indigenous Day since it a national holiday of the discovery of the Americans. JS

      1. Day being it”s the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. Do you think Christopher Columbus has anything to do with Hispanic Heritage? No! Good job Spaniards. Come to think about it this wouldn’t be the first time the “Hispanic Heritage” used an Italian to deflect, considering the Catholic Church is going through somewhat of and evolution or enlightening phase. Great Job Spaniards. 🙂 Can’t make this stuff up if I tried. 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpTlS2vcWwM

      2. Bridgeport if the parade leaves don’t take them back. Let them participate in Shelton Day, henceforth. This is why The city can’t amount to anything, Even a century old tradition that was started in the city has no true value or commitment to it. And who does it punish, the citizens of it.

        1. While it is a national holiday and the city should provide the needed service the choice to have it in Shelton is slap in the face to the city and its century old tradition. It should have been cancel.

    2. Donald Day would have OIB readers believe that he rises above the entertainment value of OIB and contributes hard facts and a logical view.

      Historians have long acknowledged the abuse of the indigenous peoples by Europeans. Day is parroting those who have adopted the ‘victim’ mentality that is so popular now.

      The enslavement of a population by a more advanced civilization was not unique to the European colonization of the Americas.

      Perhaps Day will come down from his home in Seymour and organize a mob to tear down the Columbus monument at Seaside park the way mobs attacked confederate civil war monuments in the South.

      1. Tom White being white, he has no problem with the Conference Flag being flown over State captials across the South and the same for Confederate monuments. Even Robert E. Lee said the Conference Flag should not be flown but not Tom White, right white.

      2. What! Day don’t even live in Bridgeport? Speaking of the victim mentality. The confederate nation lost the war, While we have a connection to confederate nation like we have with England in the revolution. The confederates lost the war, like England. I done see many King George statues or British flag flying on state building. Tom your subtle ” white bias” for whiteness in reference to the Confederate war monument is like Day’s subtle “black bias” in reference to just because Bridgeport only has a 26% white population a national holiday has no merit in the city. and considering 1/2 of that 74% non white blacks will not vote for. I guess its not uncommon for one race to use another race when it suits them. Good Job “Spaniard Columbus. 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1UmHfWCw-4

  8. Bob Scinto should be the next Grand Marshall of the Columbus Day.Parade. Single handily he moved just about every Business from Bridgeport to Shelton. thanks to Testa and Ganim!

    Now Ganim can say, “l found Bridgeport a city of marble and left it a city of bricks.”

  9. *** Maybe in the future Bpt. residents might see a political R-wing nationalist party parade honoring all the great things the Trump Admin. has done to make America great again! Also the odds are in favor for Trump, on pardoning the most federally convicted ex-campaign workers before his last day in the W/H. ***WHAT SAY YOU!***

  10. If the policy is applied across the board equally and every organization is required to foot their share of the police bill (as they should), then the onus is on the Columbus Day Parade Committee. No disrespect, but if the Irish and Puerto Ricans can do sufficient fund raising to cover the costs….than surely you can reach out to the Italians in Trumbull and Monroe to chip in. I’m not willing to pay more in taxes for parades and festivals for every ethnicity.

  11. “Gravy” they call it in the department
    Enough already! Is it really necessary?
    This is why the Irish Festival left Seaside Park some years ago
    This is why the Vibes left the City
    I can’t believe Testa and Ganim let this happen

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