2011 Columbus Day Parade in Morris Park
By Lennin Reyes
Bronx Journal Staff Writer
If you spy a Fiat or a tray filled with cannolis on Morris Park Avenue in the Bronx, chances are the Columbus Day Parade is en route. Thousands of people turned out for the 2011 event to celebrate Italian pride and the well-known voyage of explorer Christopher Columbus to what is now known as America.
The Bronx Columbus Day Parade has also become a family affair with many local businesses, schools and politicians gathering to show the best of Morris Park and Van Nest to The Bronx and the world. Politicians, such as Councilman James Vacca and State Senator Jeff Klein, marched along with the grand marshal, Dr. Joseph Scelsa, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. However, one politician was conspicuously absent: Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “He would get booed around here due to his performance involving last year’s snowstorm, as well as his track record when it comes to serving Morris Park and the middle class,” said onlooker Camille Cami, 58, of Morris Park.
Another parade aspect that was conspicuously absent were barricades to separate crowds from the parade. Onlooker Frank Lidasci, 56, of nearby Pelham Parkway, says, “That’s what makes this parade stand out from the rest. There are no fights, drama or unruly drunks.”
Local businesses cashed in on the event. One of them was the Scaglione Brothers Bakery and Deli, which has been in Morris Park for 67 years. Current owner Joe Scaglione says, “This is a big business day here in Morris Park. All of the businesses show off, they’re cooking pizza, sausage and peppers, giving out pastries, among other things. Many of the old-timers from Morris Park’s past come back to celebrate with us.”
Another business that cashed in was Conti’s Bakery Shoppe of nearby Van Nest, a community that has transformed from largely Italian into a polyglot of Hispanics, African-Americans and Muslims in recent years. They had several trays filled with cannolis, a delicate Italian pastry, that became empty within seconds. Captain’s, a critically acclaimed pizzeria in Morris Park, had a line that stretched out the door, to the point where it encroached on the parade spectators and pedestrians. At the end of the day, the Bronx Columbus Day Parade was a smash hit for Morris Park and Van Nest, along with its loyal spectators, as it united everyone, Italian or not.