The Council of Italian-American Societies of Greater Bridgeport, Inc., announces The Quantico Marine Corps Band will perform two free public concerts on Friday, Oct. 5, and Saturday, Oct. 6, as part of the Council’s annual Columbus Day Parade & Celebration.

Concerts will take place at 6:45 p.m. each evening at the Klein Memorial Auditorium, 910 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport. The Oct. 5 concert, “Welcome Home,” will salute Vietnam War veterans, while the Oct. 6 performance is dedicated to Blue and Gold Star families. The band will offer special musical selections each night as part of the recognition.

“We’re really looking forward to the Bridgeport trip this year,” said Master Sergeant David Wilson, the bandmaster. “The hospitality and warmth of the people make Bridgeport the highlight of our year. The Klein Memorial is a tremendous venue. The acoustics and history of the hall make it a very special and memorable place to perform. The Marines really enjoy playing the Klein. Our band director has put together a great selection of music for the concerts that I know you’ll enjoy. So, come to the concerts on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6 to hear our music and say hello.”

Established in 1918, the Quantico Marine Corps Band is one of the oldest professional musical ensembles in the Marine Corps. The band is comprised of a ceremonial band and concert band equipped to provide musical support as directed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Commander of Marine Corps Base, Quantico. In addition, the band maintains a number of small ensembles, including a brass quintet, woodwind quintet, rock/show band, party band and jazz combo.

With an authorized strength of one officer and 50 enlisted Marines, the band has performed at many civilian events, including the Super Bowl XLI Pregame Show, the 9/11 Memorials at Carnegie Hall and the Town Arts Theatre, Times Square and the Macy’s Thanksgiving and Columbus Day parades in New York City.

The band’s mission is to provide musical support that will encourage community relations, enhance troop morale and promote the Marine Corps recruiting program through its demanding performance schedule. The group plays classical to contemporary pieces at more than 350 performances annually across the Eastern seaboard. The band recently returned from Finland, where it participated in the International Tattoo Musical Festival with eight other countries represented.

Those in command of this year’s band are: Officer in Charge Randel S. Metzinger; Master Sergeant David Wilson, bandmaster; Staff Sergeant James Matthis, drum major; and Gunnery Sergeant Kristopher P. Hutsell, enlisted conductor.

The Marine Corps Band has performed in Bridgeport as part of the Columbus Day celebration for nearly 30 years. Since 1988, the Council has dedicated the concerts to the memory of Vinny Vizzo, whose daughter Rose and brother Eddie have been instrumental in making the concerts possible.

Vizzo, an Army veteran who served during WWII in Africa, China and India, was an active member of the Council and numerous other Italian-American organizations. For many years, he chaired Bridgeport’s Columbus Day Parade and, with current Council Treasurer Chris Caruso, he co-chaired the first Marine Corps Band performance at Captain’s Cove Marina in Bridgeport in 1987.

On March 3, 1988, Vizzo, 65, died of a heart attack after delivering an impassioned appeal to re-open the city’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs at a Bridgeport City Council public hearing. The office was re-opened and has continued serving the city’s veterans ever since.

In addition to the two public concerts, the Marine Corps Band will offer free performances at local high schools, a nursing and rehabilitation center and the Navy birthday celebration at Port 5 Naval Veterans in Bridgeport. The band will perform in the 110th Columbus Day Parade.

While the public concerts are free, tickets are required. The public may pick up tickets at Lupe’s Drug Store, 3129 Main Street, Bridgeport. The concerts begin at 6:45 p.m. each evening, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. Ample parking is available in the gated lot directly across the street from the Klein Memorial Auditorium.

Concertgoers are asked to bring non-perishable food items to be donated to veterans in need through the Office of Veterans’ Affairs.

“The Marine Band concerts are the most sought-after and popular traditions of the Columbus Celebration,” said Chris Caruso, treasurer of the Council. “For 29 years, they’ve become an integral part of the Bridgeport community calendar. The military precision, passion, skill and musical talent of the 50-plus Marines is quite an experience to see. Their variety of music is amazing. From jazz to patriotic favorites to popular tunes, you won’t leave disappointed. They’ll even have vocalists to entertain. Don’t delay. Get your tickets now!”

The concerts are part of a weeks-long celebration, including the John A. Arcudi, Esq., Columbus Leadership Awards, a chili cook-off and the 110th Columbus Day Parade. For more information on the Columbus Day Parade & Celebration, contact Bob Sherman at footdoc7777@gmail.com or 203-556-4097.