BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Cross Bay Boulevard was awash in red, white and green on Sunday in celebration of the Howard Beach Columbus Day Foundation’s 10th Columbus Day Parade.
The parade kicked off on the corner of 156th Avenue and made its way southbound on the boulevard in a colorful procession of floats and fanfare.
This year’s grand marshal was Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, the pastor of St. Bernard’s parish in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn. Deputy Commissioner of Sanitation Rocco DiRico and NYPD Inspector John Corbisiero shared the honor and title of the parade’s deputy grand marshals. Other honorees included Salvatore Armao, a local certified public accountant and Italian-American Businessperson of the Year.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz marched in the parade along side City Councilman Eric Ulrich, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, Community Board 10 Chair Elizabeth Braton and state Senator Joseph Addabbo, who was accompanied by his two daughters Alexis and Arianna.
Gigantiello and his fellow honorees celebrated the official start of the parade with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. An honor guard from the NYPD Ceremonial Unit, along with the NYPD marching band and Emerald Society bag pipers, led the parade. The procession that followed included an array of marching bands and contingents from Franklin K. Lane, St. Francis Preparatory, Christ the King Regional and All City high schools.
A group of young students from St. Helen’s Catholic Academy carried a large Italian flag banner and wore special red, green and white beaded necklaces. They were joined by scouts from St. Helen’s Troop 139, American Softball League, students from Mantra MMA, and team members and parents from the Ozone Howard Little League.
Fraternal organizations such as the Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA), UNICO National, Kiwanis Club of Howard Beach and the South Ozone Park Council of the Knights of Columbus also joined in the festivities.
Colorful floats outfitted in gold and white streamers from local businesses and the Howard Beach Columbus Day Foundation carried a host of lively DJs, dancers and revelers.
Parade spectators of all ages waved Italian flags and danced to both traditional and modern versions of Italian songs played from passing floats. Pope Francis even made an appearance in the form of cardboard cut-outs and souvenirs from the recent papal visit.