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On October 9th, Italians affectionately gathered at the Tall Ship Park in East Boston in commemoration of Italian Heritage Month and in honor of Christopher Columbus. The event was hosted by the Italian American Alliance to celebrate and share our culture and heritage with the thousands who attended the event.

Sponsors of the event included: The National Italian American Foundation, the Consulate General of Italy in Boston, the Veronica Robles Cultural Center, the Post Gazette, the Center for Italian Studies at Fitchburg State University, Ansonia Council 1513 of the Knights of Columbus, Angelo and Carol Rossi, The Sicilian Corner (WCCM, 110 am), Itali-Echo (WNTN, 1550 am), Style & Glamour (WCAC-TV), Lino Rullo, Italia Unita, Representative Adrian Madaro, North End Boston Food Tour, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Fran Yerardi, Dino, Rossi, Wayne Brasco, Dottie D’Onofrio, Marissa Sestito, Pio Frittata and Lisa Cappuccio.

The day could not have been better. The bright sun, the gentle wind, the majestic park with astonishing harbor view of Boston, and the high spirits of the attendees filled the air with much enthusiasm, joy and delight. DJ Felix Cutillo, MC Tommy Damigella, and the live entertainment kept the appealing and invigorating energy going throughout the afternoon.

Throughout the day, catchy tunes filled the air and delighted listeners with nostalgic Italian songs performed by Sea Breeze with Stephen Savio. Renowned musician, Ray Cavicchio on his Cavi-Chord, and world champion accordionist Cory Pesaturo also delighted with both classical and folk Italian tunes loved by all. North End’s famed Street Magic also delivered their classic doo-wop style.

The celebration offered every attendee something to enjoy. Many were captivated and mesmerized by the four-time World Pizza Acrobat, Jamie Culliton, with his impressive skills of maneuvering the flying pizza dough like a frisbee, spinning it on his fingers, rolling around his shoulders, and under his legs as he displayed his high energy juggling tricks. Equally magical and entertaining were the spectators who made their attempts at becoming pizza acrobats. Not to be outdone, the master illusionist, Steve Charette, worked his exceptional magic to captivate groups of attendees with his repertoire of interactive deceptions. The children were truly mesmerized and amazed by his special set of tricks.

Food vendors were, of course, a big part of the celebration. Montilio’s brick-fired pizza oven churned out an amazing number of delectable pizzas and provided delectable Italian pastries. DNL Concessions grilled a huge quantity of sausages with peppers and onions and lots of hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken tenders and Philly steaks for children and adults alike. Dirty Water Dough of East Boston dished out lots of meatball subs, in addition to other mouth-watering sandwiches. And no Italian festival is complete without cannolis – delivered scrumptiously by Uncle Joey’s Cannolis.

Non-food vendors gave the attendees a chance to enjoy shopping for the creative and delicious wares being sold: CRAIC famous organic flavored hot sauces, Crafty B Wreaths for all occasions, Diamond Hearts Art Studio with acrylic painting and resin art, MAB Fine Art and Photography featuring fine art prints, photo prints and note cards, many displaying beloved Admiral Cristoforo Columbus, The Sweet Spot showcasing unique soy candles and Uncle Moo’s Emporium with great doggie treats and pickles.

For the Italians, the celebration brought to life their ancestral traditions, their national identity, the strong bond they maintain with family and friends, and the enormous respect they have for their scores of ancestors, especially Columbus, who in their lifetime have contributed significantly to the betterment of the world. The day allowed them a forum to share their heritage, highlight their love and appreciation of their original and traditional food, foster their sense of belonging within their communities, retain their cultural legacy within the societal fabric of America, and document and bestow their heritage to their future generations.

The children fully underscored these aspirations. Their excitement, joy, and cheer was evident at all times, as they played games, competed for prizes, and danced along with the characters of the "Barbie Dance Show". Their beautifully painted faces by The Painted Smile underscored their delight in the day and their sand art projects by Custom Printing and More exposed their creativity. They are indeed the true aspirational future of the Italian culture.

The heritage of a nation represents the principles it has inherited from its past. The culture, on the other hand, brings it to life for the development of its society. Both culture and heritage help define who we are, how we make decisions, and how we bond our diversities. It is impossible for a society to build its future without first knowing and cultivating its past. Therefore, it should be of great interest to everyone to get to know cultures and to cultivate and preserve their own cultural heritages. With that in mind, it was the IAA’s absolute pleasure to host the fun-filled afternoon to highlight the Italian American Cultural Celebration at the Tall Ship Park. The event not only exemplified the spirit of the Italian culture, their love of celebrating with family and friends with food, warmth and good decor, but also served as a testament to how a cultural heritage can create meaningful connections with others of diverse nationalities.

A big Thank You to the Committee, Carol Rossi, Dom Amara, Lisa Cappuccio, Lina and Phil D’Alleva, Dottie D’Onofrio, Angelo Rossi and Marissa and Tony Sestito for their hard work and dedication in delivering a successful Columbus Day Italian American Cultural Celebration. In other words, “Oh what a day”!

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