Columbus Day Parade Celebrates Italian-American Tradition

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Fifth Avenue will get a red-white-and-green makeover on Monday, Oct. 10, as the 67th Annual Columbus Day Parade takes the stage in the world’s largest celebration of Italian-American heritage and culture.

Folk groups from Italy and the United States that carry on Italian traditions in music and dance, street performers, floats that depict dramatic and colorful tableau of cultural icons, a circa-1930 Italian fire truck, colorfully dressed actors performing skits, and over a dozen marching bands will be among the 100 contingents and 35,000 participants heading up Fifth Avenue in the parade.

Leading the parade will be Grand Marshal Joseph J. Plumeri, a noted philanthropist, business leader, and chairman and chief executive officer of Willis Group Holdings. A Trenton native, Plumeri was named Grand Marshal for his exceptional philanthropic work with numerous organizations and educational institutions, including the New Jersey Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the College of William & Mary, and the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York.

The parade also honors the Millennium High School, of New York, which was established to help rebuild lower Manhattan following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Foundation donated the proceeds of the 2001 Columbus Day Parade, totaling $1 million, toward the construction of Millennium High School and this year is providing the school with a specially designed float in recognition of the school’s success and the unyielding spirit of New York and the United States in the face of adversity.

“The 2011 Columbus Day Parade takes place during the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, one of the great events of the 19th century,” said Frank G. Fusaro, president of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, which organizes the parade. “Since then, millions of Italians have come to the United States and, with many other groups, have helped to make America the great country that it is today. We invite people of all backgrounds to come to the parade and enjoy the beauty and spectacle of Italian-American heritage and culture, past and present.”

Featured in the parade will be Howard Beach, N.Y. native Pia Toscano, the American Idol star and a New York idol, who will perform along the parade route at designated streets. Toscano will also perform on the parade’s Red Carpet for television audiences enjoying the celebration airing live on WABC-TV. Channel 7’s broadcast will be anchored by Maria Bartiromo and Joe Piscopo with Eyewitness News Anchor Ken Rosato and Reporter Lisa Colagrossi reporting from along the parade route. WABC-TV’s broadcast runs from noon to 3 p.m.

Parade spectators will be entertained by cast members of the musical, “Italian: The Magical World of the Italian Fairy,” in full costume, who will perform pantomime skits along the parade route. Starring the charismatic Simona Rodano, the musical will be performed later in the month at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College. The parade also pays tribute to men and women from the uniformed civil service departments of New York City, who help make the city run efficiently and keep it safe and one of the most visited and admired places in the world. Thousands of the members of the departments will march in the parade.

The parade will start at approximately 11:30 a.m.; the route runs along Fifth Avenue from 47th Street to 72nd Street.

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