SEASIDE HEIGHTS – The Columbus Day Parade will not be held this year. With great regret, Parade Chairman Michael A. Blandina made the announcement earlier this month.
Like so many other autumn events held around the county, the 29th Annual Ocean County Columbus Day Parade and Italian Festival was canceled due to financial shortfalls brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The event would have been held from October 9 to October 11 on Grant Avenue in the borough.
“I was really hoping we could go forward,” Blandina said. “We have been unable to conduct fundraisers or seek sponsors that normally provide the committee with the $120,000-plus needed to support the three-day festival and parade. We had one fundraiser earlier in the year and held our spring raffle.”
The parade featured floats, bands, antique cars, contests, clowns and other attractions. The weekend also offered a full of range of family friendly activities including a three-day Italian Heritage festival that included musical entertainment and various vendors and folkloric dance troops that came from different regions of Italy. Last year’s folkloric group included Citta di Castrovillari
“The committee currently is selling our Fall Raffle Tickets and plan to sell all 100 Fall Raffle Tickets, so that we can give away the $5,000 cash prize. The committee hopes to have our annual benefit sponsored by Carrabba’s Italian Grill,” Blandina said.
Blandina said that the fundraiser would have “a different format as well as our annual Italian Invitational Golf Outing, which was originally scheduled for August 17, later in the year. That will depend on the ability to obtain sponsors. The committee also hopes you and your family stay well and safe during these trying times.”
“We look forward to seeing all of you next year as we celebrate our 30th anniversary on October 8-10, 2021. If anyone is interested in supporting the committee as we plan for the 30th anniversary please do not hesitate to call us at 732 477-6507,” Blandina added.
Seaside Heights is extending its summer beach season by a few weekends to help supplement the revenue losses experienced due to the COVID-19 conditions. The parade was an autumn event that drew thousands of people to the shore area in October.
Seaside Heights Mayor Anthony Vaz noted that it was the biggest event the borough holds each fall.
“It is very important to our fall season,” Vaz said. The mayor added however that while he was sorry to learn the news, he completely understood why it could not be held this year.
Blandina stressed that next year’s effort needed public support. “Those interested in purchasing the Fall Raffle, sponsoring the Golf Outing or participating in the outing please give us a call. You can also visit our website at columbusnj.org.”