(JERSEY CITY) On Saturday, Oct. 12 at 1 pm, Jersey City will honor its rich Italian heritage when the Columbus Day Parade kicks off on 6th Street & Newark Avenue and marches east to Jersey Avenue and then south to City Hall.
This year’s event, re-established by the Dante Alighieri Society of Jersey City marks the 5th year the Columbus Day Parade will take place in one of Jersey City’s most established Italian-American neighborhoods that includes Holy Rosary Church, the oldest Italian parish in New Jersey. Nicholas J. Grillo, President of the and a congregant at Holy Rosary Church says the parade this year is bigger and better than ever.
“The Jersey City Columbus Day Parade will have some terrific bands and civic groups,” Grillo say. “We are grateful to our supporters who, every year, help us honor those Italian-Americans who work hard every day to enrich our Italian-American heritage and the quality-of-life in our community.”
Every year, the parade honors local Italian-American movers and shakers and some honorary Italian Americans, too. This year’s honorees are Grand Marshall, Dr. Ignatius Scalia, D.M.D; Deputy Grand Marshall Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano; Italian Woman of the Year Maria T. Maio-Messano; Italian Man of the Year Louis Tiscornia; Italian Police Officer of the Year Christopher Viera; Italian Firefighter of the Year Constance Zappella; Italian Businessman of the Year Joseph Napolitano, Jr.; Honorary Italian Woman of the Year Candice Osborne; Honorary Italian Man of the Year Rev. “Jerzy” Zaslona, Pastor of Holy Rosary Church; and Miss Columbus Gina Nicole Gonzalez.
Grand Marshall Dr. Ignatius Scalia, D.M.D. was born and raised in the Marion section of Jersey City after his parents Antonio and Caterina emigrated from Italy; Caterina working as a seamstress and Antonio as a Master Barber in his own shop in Journal Square. Scalia – who earned a barber’s license and worked with his dad at his barber shop – went on to earn a degree at St. Peter’s College in 1985 and then graduated from the UMDNJ Dental School in Newark. He held a General Practice Residency at the Jersey City Medical Center, a four-year Oral Maxillofacial Surgery Residency, and earned two Board Certifications before opening his dental practice, which happens to be across the street from his dad’s barbershop. Dr. Scalia has additional dental practices in Hoboken, Westfield, Perth Amboy and Union City and is currently Clinical Assistant Professor at Jersey City Medical Center and for the past two years, President of the Medical/Dental staff. Dr. Scalia still cares about the city where he was born and raised, he says.
“I am truly honored to celebrate my Italian heritage in this wonderful city where I was born, educated and continue to work,” Dr. Scalia says, “and I am humbled to be chosen Grand Marshall of the Jersey City Columbus Day Parade. Marching in the parade with the other honorees on October 12th will be a highlight and fond memory.”
The Line of March will include local dignitaries Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise and Jersey City Councilwoman Joyce Waterman. Marching bands like the Red Mike Festival Band; the American Celts Pipe & Drums; and the Hampton Pipes & Drums will also participate, along with members of the Jersey City Police and Fire Departments. The All Star Cheerleaders; Friendly Sons of St. Patrick; Dante Alighieri Society of Jersey City and members of the University Club are just a short-list of the more than 30 groups and organizations also participating.
Friends and family of the Jersey City Columbus Day Parade Honorees will likely be lining up at the parade to support their local heroes. There’s no doubt Italian Firefighter of the Year Constance Zappella will be hearing lots of cheers from the crowd. Born and raised in Jersey City, Zappella says she is a proud product of the Jersey City school system. A graduate of McNair Academic High School, Zappella went on to study at St. Peter’s College where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in both Economics and Sociology. In 2011, she became the first woman in the Jersey City Fire Department to be promoted to Captain. She is currently working on a Fire Science degree at New Jersey City University.
“It is a great honor to be recognized as the Jersey City Columbus Day Italian American Firefighter of the Year,” Captain Zappella says. “I’d like to acknowledge all the hard-working Italian Americans, past and present, who have contributed to building Jersey City into the great place it is to live and work today.”
The Jersey City Columbus Day Parade, now in its 5th year, continues to be a great tradition and has held up longer than Hoboken and Bayonne, which cancelled their Columbus Day Parades this year.
“In years past, we have seen our neighboring cities’ Columbus Day events canceled,” Jersey City Columbus Day Parade committee president Grillo says. “Maybe now is the time to start planning a county-wide parade.”
For more info, please visit the JC Columbus Day Parade on Facebook: http://columbusparadejc.org
All media are invited to cover the event; for interviews, please contact PR rep Sally Deering at 201-667-3636.