Italian Americans make up one of the largest ethnic groups in this country – so it’s fitting to give props to Italian Americans both living and deceased that honor our communities.

I’ll never forget. There was a small Italian American parade that went through the streets of my old neighborhood in Brooklyn. At the time, the big attraction was Channel 7 news reporter Rosanne Scamardella. That’s all my uncle (o’zi) had to see. He was like a little child waving to her and calling out her name.

The annual Morris County Columbus Day Parade, which is hosted by the Italian American Club, is dedicated this year to the late “Sopranos” actor and New Jersey native, James Gandolfini.
Parade spokesman William Agnellino said, “James Gandolfini is a great actor of stage and screen, but he was also a great philanthropist for New Jersey charities and Rutgers University,” “He played Tony Soprano, but he was also a fine man.”

The parade starts at 2 p.m. this Sunday on Ridgedale Avenue in East Hanover, and features 10 marching bands and Polizia di Stato, the State Police of Italy. Also included are Morris County police and fire departments, entertainers, and many social and civic organizations.

The Hanover Park Marching Band will lead the parade.

In addition to celebrating the life and generosity of Gandolfini, WPIX 11 Morning News anchor Dan Mannarino has been chosen as the Grand Marshall of the ninth annual event. Jeanine Strafacci of News 12 New Jersey will serve as the parade master of ceremonies.

Jeanine Strafacci - Youtube
Jeanine Strafacci - Youtube

This year’s awards recipients are Chief John Centanni of the Newark Fire Department for Italian American Man of the Year; Attorney Cristina Mirda for Italian American Women of the Year; Anthony & Sons Bakery for Entrepreneur of the Year; NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo for Humanitarian of the Year; Riley Principe is “Parade Princess.”

Agnellino said, “This is an outstanding group of honorees who serve as great role models for young people and demonstrate how hard work and family values are the backbone of what Italian Americans are all about.”

And we are just that!

Who’s the Italian American you most admire?

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