Two years ago, Mother Nature didn’t cooperate with the planned East Boston Columbus Day Parade that year.
Driving rain, the remnants of Hurricane Matthew that swept up the East Coast, saturated the area, and parade organizers made the very difficult and painful decision to cancel the event for the first time in its history.
However, the parade’s Chief Marshall Joseph Ruggiero said the parade will return this year and will be bigger and better than ever.
“We have over four divisions marching in this year’s parade which will kickoff at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7 at the corner of Wally and Bennington streets,” said Ruggiero. “The Shriners division has gotten even bigger this year and have all sorts of fun stuff planned for kids. Santa will make a special visit and of course many local organizations will be marching.”
Ruggiero added that like years past there will be a celebration of Eastie’s diversity.
“We have all sorts of floats celebrating countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico among others to truly represent the diverse cultures living in East Boston,” said Ruggiero.
The Parade Committee also has several special events leading up to the parade. On Tuesday, Oct. 2 the committee will host its traditional Spaghetti Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at Spinelli’s in Day Square. The Chief Marshal’s Reception will follow on Friday, Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Spinelli’s and the time-honored Columbus Day Breakfast will be held the day of the parade, Sunday Oct. 7 at Spinelli’s at 7:30 a.m.
“We encourage community members to come and help us celebrate this long-established parade and its traditions,” said Ruggiero. “It’ll be a beautiful day filled with a lot of fun for the whole family.”
While Ruggiero will serve as the parade’s Chief Marshal, Mayor Martin Walsh will be the Honorary Chief Marshal of the parade while longtime parade organizer Buddy Mangini will serve as Coordinator and General Chairman.
This year’s Veteran of the Year will be awarded to State Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Eastie resident Francisco Urena.
It’s Eastie’s turn to host the annual Columbus Day Parade, a yearly tradition of Italian American Pride that is split between here and the North End every other year.
“East Boston hosts the parade on even years and since 2010, every year this neighborhood has hosted the parade it has become better, bigger, brighter and more exciting,” said Ruggiero.
Ruggiero added that the parade would never be possible without General Chairman Mangini’s passion for organizing the event.
“Buddy and the committee have spent the past 13 months planning a great event,” said Ruggiero. “If it wasn’t for people like Buddy Mangini, George Gambale, Rosalie Petralia, Celeste Myers, the Plagenza Family and Jim Kearney and all the other volunteers that helped all year with fundraisers and events this event would never be possible.”
The parade honoring Christopher Columbus on the anniversary of his arrival in the Americas is always a festive occasion with the bands, floats, and local dignitaries making it a “must-see”
attraction for people of all ages.
While the parade may have been a washout two years ago 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 parade was just as important as seeing the smiling faces along the parade route.
“This year’s parade we will celebrate East Boston’s support of first responders, our veterans, our Italian American heritage, our Latin American culture and the neighborhood’s rich diversity.”
Ruggiero said as in year’s past there will be great marching bands, dance numbers and a wave of celebratory floats.