Columbus Day Parade festivities kick off

The 109th Columbus Day Parade, a Street Festa and two free Marine Band Concerts will highlight three days of celebrating the Italian culture and heritage beginning Sunday, Oct. 8.

The parade kicks off at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Bridgeport’s North End, starting at the corner of Wayne Street and Jewett Avenue and proceeding south on Wayne Street to Madison Avenue, finishing at Micalizzi’s Italian Ices and Ice Cream Shop. Richard Iannucci, this year’s parade chairman helped to organize more than 75 units that comprise the Parade roster.

The parade includes the Quantico Marine Corps Band, the Pyramid Shriner Clowns, the Chester Fife and Drum, the Fairfield Gaelic Pipes and Drums, an Italian marching band direct from Brooklyn, New York, an Italian dance troupe, more than six floats, including a replica of the Santa Maria with Christopher Columbus at the helm. The 2nd Company Governor’s Horse Guard, the Shelton Combined High School and Intermediate Bands and Guard as well as the Shriners driving the Parade route in their miniature motorcycles and cars.

Shelton Mayor Mark A. Lauretti, this year’s Grand Marshal pointed out that the parade continues to grow each year. “We owe a great deal to Rich Iannucci and his team who put a lot of effort into bringing the Parade together,” Lauretti said.

From 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. on the day of the Parade, at Micalizzi’s Italian Ices and Ice Cream Shop, 712 Madison Avenue (at end of the Parade), the Columbus Street Festa will take place featuring music, Italian food and treats, activities for children such as face painting, walk around magicians, jugglers and more.“We have a great Festa in store for the entire family —including a cannoli eating contest. So join us for lots of fun,” Jay Piccirillo, Festa Chairman said.

For the 28th year, the Columbus Day festivities will feature two Free Marine Band Concerts. This year, the Quantico Marine Corps Band will perform on Friday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m., at the Klein Memorial Auditorium, Bridgeport. There is free parking at the Klein. The concerts are free, but due to limited seating tickets are required. Tickets are available at Lupe’s Drug Store, 3129 Main Street, Bridgeport, 203-374-0600. Concert goers are asked to bring nonperishable items to the Klein (night of the concerts) for distribution to veterans in need from the greater Bridgeport community.

“We’re very excited about coming back to Bridgeport this year,” MSGT David J. Wilson, the Band Master said. “We enjoy bringing the Band on tour to take part in Bridgeport’s Columbus Day Celebration. The citizens are fantastic and we always play to a packed auditorium. The Klein is such a unique venue — a very special opportunity for the Band and Concert goers alike.”