Woodbridge Township Salutes Italian American Heritage

WOODBRIDGE—Senator Joseph F. Vitale and The Knights of Columbus Colonia Council # 6571 held a flag-raising ceremony on Oct. 12 in observance of Columbus Day.  Special guests included Congressman Leonard Lance, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, Mayor John E. McCormac and members of the Woodbridge Township Council.

“Our growth as a nation has been achieved through the genius and industry of Italian immigrants.   As stewards of their tradition and in celebration of Columbus Day, we join together to recognize two Italian-Americans who have each made great contributions to our community,” said Vitale, chairman of the New Jersey Italian-American Caucus. “Pat Trombetta and Gianina Pezzella Mack are testaments to the value of our nation’s rich Italian heritage.”


After an invocation offered by Father Charles Cicerale of Saint James Church, Pasquale “Pat” Trombetta, a life-long Woodbridge resident, was named the 2009 Columbus Day Grand Marshall.  “Pat Trombetta is always ready, willing and able to assist in any endeavor that showcases the talent of Woodbridge Township residents.  Pat was selected to be Grand Marshall in recognition of his years of dedicated service to the Woodbridge Community,” said Vitale introducing the grand marshall.

Vitale went on to describe his many contributions, “Pat is a Senior Olympian and has coordinated the New Jersey Senior Olympics held in Woodbridge Township annually since 2007.  He serves on the Woodbridge Township Planning Board, the Woodbridge Township Mayor’s Advisory Committee, and the Democratic County Committee.  In his spare time, Pat is an expert billiards player and a founding member of the Woodbridge Township Billiards Club.  He is the Chairperson for Relay for Life of Woodbridge and began the Woodbridge ‘Senior Idol’ contest last year.”

Trombetta proudly accepted this recognition and spoke of how his Italian heritage enriched his life, “My Dad owned a Mom and Pop store in Jersey City.  He’d often call on me to deliver groceries in the neighborhood.  Back in those days we lived in walk-ups and I swear every delivery I made was to the fourth floor of a building.  Without fail the lady of the house would be at the top of the last flight with her hands on her hips huffing about how long I took as I tried my best to catch a breath.  After getting a coin here and there I learned not to complain so much.  My Dad taught me the value of hard work,” explained Trombetta.

Gianina Pezzella Mack of Colonia was named the 2009 Columbus Day Miss Italian-American, in recognition of her academic achievements and her contributions to the community.  She is a senior honors student at Colonia High School, aspiring to be the first member of her family to attend college.
“As a first generation Italian-American woman, Gianina knows how the rewards of labor, risk and ingenuity extend for generations,” noted Vitale.  “She has had the unique opportunity to spend her summers in Italy with her Grandparents and place her hand on the very bricks her grandfather laid to earn the money he used to move his family to America.”

“The Italian American community has contributed so much to the rich cultural and historical tapestry in New Jersey.  We owe it to the families of Italian heritage who call the Garden State home to honor and celebrate those contributions.  Moving forward, every October in New Jersey will be a chance to appreciate all that Italian-Americans have given to make our State, our nation, and our world a better place to live,” said Vitale referencing the resolution he sponsored designating the month of October as Italian-American Heritage Month.

The crowd gathered for the annual Woodbridge Township Columbus Day flag raising celebration enjoyed a selection of Italian songs performed by Woodbridge resident Andrew Zajack.  “Christopher Columbus” made an appearance with the help of Woodbridge Township Board of Education member and Port Reading resident, Lawrence Miloscia.

Valentina Seramba, a ninth grade student at Woodbridge High School, sung the Italian national anthem as Councilwoman Brenda Velasco raised the Italian flag.  The flag was raised in honor of long-time Woodbridge resident Sam Fonte, who recently moved to Howell with his wife Rose.


Pictured left to right are Columbus Day Event C-Chair Angelo Befumo, Councilwoman Brenda Velasco, Senator Joe Vitale, Rosanna Esoldo, and Columbus Day Event Co-Chair Charlie Shaughnessy


Pictured left to right are Columbus Day Event Co-Chair Angelo Befumo, Grand Marshall Pat Trombetta, and Father Charles Cicerale of St. James Church


Pictured left to right are Senator Joe Vitale, Miss. Italian-American Gianina Pezzella Mack, and Grand Marshall Pat Trombetta


Knights of Columbus Colonia Council #6571 with Grand Marshall Pat Trombetta and Miss. Italian-American Gianina Pezzella Mack


Pictured left to right are “Christopher Columbus” Lawrence Miloscia, Grand Marshall Pat Trombetta, Councilwoman Brenda Velasco and Miss. Italian-American Gianina Pezzella Mack


Valentina Seramba, a student at Woodbridge High School singing Italy’s National Anthem

Pictures taken by Frank D’Arcio


photo shared by Grand Marshall Pat Trombetta: Pat Trombetta with his Dad at the Mom & Pop Store his Father owned in Jersey City, 1945.

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