By John Lynds
On Sunday Mother Nature did not cooperate with the planned East Boston Columbus Day Parade set to step off down Bennington Street at 1 p.m. Driving rain, the remnants of Hurricane Matthew that swept up the East Coast, saturated the area all day Sunday and parade organizers made the very difficult and painful decision to cancel the parade for the first time in its history.
“We had to do it for the safety of the residents, the parade participants and most of all the children that would be marching in the parade as well as lining the parade route,” said Parade Organizer and Chief Marshal Joseph Ruggiero Jr.
However, despite the cancellation, the community and the East Boston Times would like to thank longtime event organizers Albert “Buddy” Mangini, Joseph Ruggiero Jr., George Gambale, Bill Chisholm and Rosalie Petralia for their hard work, dedication and countless volunteer hours over the past year organizing, planning and fundraising for this year’s parade.
If the past has taught us anything of what these dedicated Eastie volunteers are able to accomplish, this year’s parade would have been filled with the same excitement, fun, and memories as the past parades these individuals have organized.
While many residents were disappointed that disappointment in no way compares to that of the parade organizers who poured their heart and soul into making this year’s parade a successful event for all of Eastie.
In the end, while the parade did not happen as planned the year-long schedule of community events, fundraisers, banquets, breakfasts, awards ceremonies and meetings accomplished bringing the community–both young and old, both old and new–together to plan a special day for Eastie.
Albert “Buddy” Mangini, Joseph Ruggiero Jr., George Gambale, Bill Chisholm and Rosalie Petraglia were able to bring a community together for a single special cause; were able to bridge the gap between generations; were able to celebrate the neighborhood’s diversity; and were able to celebrate the true spirit of the neighborhood we call home.
While the parade may have been a washout, the fact that hundreds, if not thousands in Eastie, were able to help organize or volunteer or attend events in the months leading up to Sunday is just as important as seeing the smiling faces along the parade route.
In the final analysis, while the parade may have been canceled, the organizers were still able to still accomplish a tremendous feat–to rally an entire community together around one cause and one goal for an entire year.
For this, the Columbus Day Parade Committee should all be commended.