News release on Columbus events:
The 104th Columbus Day Parade, one of the longest continuous parades in the State, and the Parris Island Marine Corps Band Concerts will culminate three days of celebrating Italian-American culture and heritage on Sunday, October 7th in Bridgeport.
The parade steps off at 1 pm on October 7th in Bridgeport, starting at the corner of Wayne and Jewett Avenues and rolling south down Wayne Street to Madison Ave, finishing at Micalizzi’s Italian Ices store. John Epifano has served as the parade chairman and helped organize more than 80 units that comprise the parade roster.
This year’s parade includes Trumbull and Masuk High Schools Marching Bands, Bridgeport’s Park City Pride Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps, Fairfield Gaelic Pipe and Drum Band, and the Parris Island Marine Corps Band. Chris Caruso, an officer of The Council of Italian-American Societies of Greater Bridgeport, pointed out the parade has grown significantly from last year, which included approximately 60 units.
“Every year, the parade continues to grow,” Caruso said. “We owe a great deal to Frank Gennarini, our Grand Marshal, and Parade Chairman John Epifano who both put in a lot of effort in bringing this parade to another level.”
This year’s parade will also feature large helium-inflated character balloons and more than eight floats, including a replica of the Santa Maria with Christopher Columbus at the helm. Ringling Brothers clowns and performers will also march in the parade along with a confetti cannon. The Connecticut National Guard will take part as well as the Shriners who will drive the parade route in their miniature Thunderbirds.
Gennarini will ride on a float in the parade that ironically begins at the site of his great-grandfather’s former farmland.
“The parade is important for me for many reasons, one of which is the route that begins where my great grandfather once lived with his family,” Gennarini said. “The Columbus Day Parade is a great celebration for all Italian Americans who have contributed so much to building the fabric of our country and the Greater Bridgeport area. I hope people come out and celebrate with us.”
Prior to the parade, a Pre-Show will take place, featuring popular professional singers who will perform Italian songs and arias, and Broadway show tunes at a staging area at Micalizzi’s Italian Ices at 712 Madison Avenue in Bridgeport, beginning at 11:30 am. Frank Mastrone and Krista Adams-Santulli will perform during the Pre-Show.
Joseph A. Riccio, Pre-Show chairman, recommends getting in the celebratory mood by attending the free show that offers great entertainment and celebrates the richness of the Italian culture. At the Pre-Show, vendors will also serve food.
For the 25th consecutive year, the Columbus Day festivities will feature a Marine Corps Band. This year, the Parris Island Marine Band will perform two concerts on October 6th (at 7 pm) and October 7th (at 6 pm) in the Klein Memorial Auditorium, Bridgeport. Admission is free but tickets are required. Tickets are available at Lupe’s Drug Store, 3129 Main Street, Bpt. (203-374-0600). Attendees are asked to bring non-perishable food items for the homeless and low-income veterans to the concert. Last year, two tons were collected.
The Parris Island Marine Band from Parris Island, SC, the official recruit training base, performs hundreds of concerts each year. The different groups within the band consist of a concert band, marching/ceremonial band, stage band, brass quintet, and a jazz combo that perform numerous concerts and at parades across the United States. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joshua A. Stone will conduct the concerts.
The 50-member Parris Island Marine Band is scheduled to play patriotic favorites, such as John Philip Sousa marches, an Armed Forces medley, Big Band/Dixieland selections as well as other Bridgeport favorites. In addition, the band will perform special symphonic selections.
“We’re excited about coming to Bridgeport year after year,” Stone said. “We enjoy bringing the band on tour to celebrate the Columbus Day activities. We always play before a packed auditorium and the Klein is such a unique hall.”
For more information about the Columbus Day festivities, visit www.celebratecolumbusbpt.com.