We The Italians | IT and US: Columbus Day Parade

IT and US: Columbus Day Parade

IT and US: Columbus Day Parade

  • WTI Magazine #85 Nov 21, 2016
  • 536

WTI Magazine #85    2016 November 21
Author : Agnese Tortosa      Translation by:

It was really touching. I witnessed several parades in my life, some of them in New York, but to march representing my own country, well... it has been completely different. I am writing this article to express with more details what I experienced, trying to describe the atmosphere that was there, the feelings I felt and even the opposing views expressed by those who do not share this day of celebration and were there to prove it.

I also want to tell you about the experience of the red carpet and all the "behind the scenes". Before we begin, however, I want to thank my friend Umberto who invited me to join the parade, marching with him behind the banner of We The Italians.

Like every year, the parade was held along the 5th Avenue, from 42nd to 72nd street, where there was the red carpet with the local TV's cameras, and the parterre with the Grand Marshal - this year represented by Robert Lapenta. By clicking here you can watch the entire event, with particular attention to the part 7, 0:44 minutes: here we are!

The feeling you get, is to be at a big party, where you don't know anyone but you actually know everyone, because the trait d'union is the Italian spirit.

The preparation is beautiful, maybe as much as the parade. Participants wait on the streets that cross the 5th Avenue, each with an entry number assigned, and gradually they are queued to the other turning on the 5th. You can feel the sense of excitement, the happiness for "being here again this year" and to meet with people who may see each other only on these occasions.

So dialects, English and Italian languages, people from Italy and from US are mixed: and you hear a "Wè Josephine, good to see you! Cumme staj?", and then "che bella jurnata guys!", and when it was our time to turn on 5th Avenue, "tocca a voi, all right?".

Yes, it is a celebration, the celebration of the union between Italy, Cristoforo Colombo's homeland to which New York is very devoted, and the United States, who have welcomed and continue to welcome thousands of Italians every year.

What excited me most? Watching people's smile, at the edge of the Avenue, waving Italian and American flags. And they were not just Italians, many tourists of other nationalities stopped because intrigued by our music, our colors, our noisy happiness, and joined our celebration, cheered, gave smiles.

Obviously, there were also people who thought differently. They came to express peacefully their dissent, blaming Colombo for having been the first terrorist in the United States, because of Native Americans killings.

I do not want to open a debate on this subject, I obviously do not agree with their idea, because history shows us something else: but I believe that everyone has the right to express his own idea, if they do it politely.

Speaking again about the parade, it was a triumph of music and colors, perhaps a bit exaggerated! Some floats seemed came out from the house of magical fairies as they were sparkling!

We can say that the set looks a bit like a typical Southern-Italy village feast, where people sing the dialect's songs and are pleasured to share the feeling with their fellows, no matter what.

Throughout the parade we were always surrounded by photographers who were constantly shooting; but the highlight came at the end, when we walked on the red carpet, surrounded by bleachers where the honorable spectators and reporters were commenting on the parade for local radios. There were also TV cameras and the Grand Marshal, for the final greetings.

A small curiosity: among the previous Grand Marshal there were also Sophia Loren, Franco Zeffirelli, Frank Sinatra, Luciano Pavarotti, Tony Bennett, Henry Mancini, Joe Di Maggio.

Well, when I landed here in New York for the first time, I couldn't imagine that I would have marched on the Columbus Day Parade on Fifth Avenue. It's been really a great satisfaction!