SEASIDE HEIGHTS – This weekend marks the return of an Ocean County autumn tradition featuring the celebration of Italian-American heritage coordinated by the Ocean County Columbus Day Parade Committee.
The celebration includes an Italian Heritage Festival starting Friday evening and continues through Sunday when the 30th Annual Ocean County Columbus Day Parade takes place.
After a year’s interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Columbus Day Weekend Italian Festival is back and will take place along Grant Avenue in Seaside Heights, between Ocean Terrace and W Central Avenue. As always, the festival will feature a variety of delicious food and Italian specialties, craft and merchandise vendors, and entertainment.
The parade will step off at 1 p.m. on October 10. The parade will march down the Boulevard and features marching bands, floats, antique cars, and various organizations and groups.
“The parade has become one of the most ethnic in the state and is the highlight of the three-day Italian Festival,” Parade Chairman Michael Blandina said.
He added, that the “Parade Committee is proud to be celebrating our 30th Anniversary this year. As we celebrate our Italian Heritage and Culture this October, we will also be recognizing essential workers. Over the last year and a half essential workers put themselves on the line each and every day taking care of our needs during the pandemic.”
Blandina said the “Parade Committee would like to honor them during this year’s parade and festival for all of their efforts on behalf the public. We hope to add additional floats and have essential workers on those floats so that they can be recognized accordingly for all of their efforts over the last year and a half.”
“We are also hoping to add signage to the floats to recognize and honor these workers. For those essential workers who are participating as walkers in the parade we hope to add banners in front of them. We work hard each year to make the Columbus Day Parade and Italian Festival better than the year before,” Blandina added.
He said “the Parade Committee consists of Band Chair Phyllis Shindle, Groups and Organization Co-Chair Nora and Clarence Davis, Antique Car Chair Luigi Luongo and Float Chair Hank Shindle.”
“Many of your annual favorites will be returning and we will welcome new organizations and groups for the first time this year,” Blandina added.
Blandina noted that the Parade Committee could always use more members and invited “anyone interested in his or her heritage and culture to join the Columbus Day Parade Committee. Civic minded individuals who might be able to assist as a volunteer are always welcome. Any organizations that wish to participate should contact the Parade Committee.”
He also noted that the three-day event is always “in need of sponsors for the bands, floats and entertainment. Any individuals, business or professionals who wish to become a sponsor for the 2022 event should contact him at 732-477-6507.