Sections

Explore the party: Columbus Parade celebrates Italian-American culture in Bensonhurst

Italian battalion: The 38th annual Columbus Parade will celebrate Italian-American culture with floats and a block party along 18th Avenue in Bensonhurst on Oct. 12.
Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:

It’s la dolce vita — in Bensonhurst!

A parade celebrating Italian-American culture will return to Bensonhurst on Oct 12 for the 38th time — and this year it will add its first-ever block party to the festivities. The annual Brooklyn Columbus Parade will turn a stretch of 18th Avenue into a red, white, and green festa to honor the 15th-century Italian explorer, while highlighting positive Italian-American heritage since then, according to the head of the organization behind the parade.

“Originally the idea was very much to fight the image that Italian-Americans were at best workers in the pizza parlors or at worst joining gangs,” said Jack Spatola, president of the Federation of Italian-American Organizations of Brooklyn. “Rather than accentuate the pizzaiolo — with all respect to the pizzaiolo, everybody loves pizza — we should also highlight educators, lawyers, and public servants.”

The parade will start at 61st Street and proceed down 18th Avenue, with community leaders and Italian-themed floats marching for 26 blocks until they reach Benson Avenue. There the marchers can relax at a block party, which will feature stands from local businesses, music, and food, including cannolis made on-site.

The Italian-American community in the southern Brooklyn neighborhood has been on decline for at least half a century, with Asian-American and Hispanic neighbors moving in, but Spatola said that is part of the ever-changing nature of Brooklyn. The Columbus Day Parade offer a chance for new and old residents to come together, he added.

“It’s nothing new, it just goes up and down — the Italian-American community has always been in the mix. There was a time when that was represented by a higher number but now it’s less,” said Spatola, a retired principal who was born and raised in the neighborhood. “We want families of all different backgrounds to join in.”

The parade happens during Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month and two days before the state-recognized Columbus Day. The day has drawn controversy in recent times, with some states recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day to pay homage to the Native Americans who were killed by European colonists after the explorer landed on the shores of the New World.

Spatola said that while Columbus is a contested figure, he is still pivotal for Italian-Americans.

“We have to take look at Christopher Columbus as a symbol that represents the Italian-American community of yesterday and today,” he said. “The point of the matter is to take history in context.”

“The 38th Annual Brooklyn Columbus Parade” [18th Avenue beween 61st Street and Benson Avenue in Bensonhurst, (718) 259–2828, www.fiaobrooklyn.org]. Oct. 12 at 1 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Posted 12:00 am, October 7, 2019
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:


Reasonable discourse

Winter from Park Slope says:
Pretty ironic now that we know he was wrong, and the earth is actually flat.
Oct. 7, 9:53 am
Connie says:
I’m ‘talian, and I’m PROUD!!!
Oct. 8, 1:55 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: