For the first time in two years, Vespa riders, marching bands, girl scouts, bagpipers, members of various civic associations, and revelers waving from atop red, white, and green trimmed floats made their way down Cross Bay Boulevard for the Howard Beach Columbus Day parade. After a rough year due to Hurricane Sandy, Howard Beach and its surrounding neighborhoods have been a little solemn, but on Sunday, thousands of spectators lined the sidewalks to witness the Italian-pride themed celebration.
Lydia, a Howard Beach resident who preferred not to give her last name, said it was “nice to come out and see it after Sandy. I think everybody feels that way.” Jill O’Sullivan, who grew up in Howard Beach, brought her two young children to watch the parade and visit their grandparents. “It really brings the community together,” she said of the event, also mentioning that she was pleased with this year’s turnout–one of largest she’d ever seen. Her mother, Judy Buttner, has lived in the neighborhood for 42 years and usually attends the parade. She said she was “happy to see so many people enjoying the day.”
The community event is hosted by the Howard Beach Columbus Day Foundation, which will hold its annual gala dinner on Wednesday, October 9 at Russo’s On The Bay. MediSys Health Network Director and lifelong Howard Beach resident Joann Ariola, former City Council Member Melinda Katz, City Council Member Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), and several local business owners were among those honored during this year’s festivities. Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota was also on hand to greet voters.
Story by Hannah Sheehan
Photos by Patricia Adams, Hannah Sheehan and Robert Stridiron