Last year, Sandy stopped the always-anticipated Howard Beach Columbus Day Parade. But this year, the event came back bigger and better.
“We were ecstatic,” said Frank Gulluscio, the area’s Democratic District Leader. “Besides celebrating the Italian culture, it was the fact that the community came back, the fact that we were out there in full force.”
Honorees Al Perna, Luigi Moccia, JoAnn Ariola, Peter Vallone, Jr. and Melinda Katz proudly donned their “Grand Marshal” sashes and waved to the crowd of hundreds as they made their way down Cross Bay Boulevard.
“The recovery has been duly noted that people are back,” Gulluscio said. “It’s an enormous day for the community and all the organizations that took part in it.”
The parade brought in dozens of participants from the Howard Beach and Rockaway neighborhoods as well as the rest of the borough. Marching bands from schools such as Beach Channel High School and
Christ the King played as they processed down the boulevard, as did bagpipe players from various city organizations.
“That’s what this parade has become. It’s not just our community, it’s about the entire area,” Gulluscio said. “It has become nurturing all of the other cultures that live within New York City.”
Local girl scout troops joined the fun, as did the Hamilton Beach Fire Department, local ambulance corps, the Kiwanis Club of Howard Beach and various local businesses.
The energy as groups and floats made their way down Cross Bay from 157th Avenue was apparent. Local officials State Senator Joseph Addabbo, City Councilmember Eric Ulrich and Assemblymember Philip Goldfeder came out to join the celebration as well.
“The fact that we’ve endured the whole recovery process shows the strength of the community,” Gulluscio said. “Howard Beach is here.”