By Janee Law
The Order Sons of Italy in America is gearing up to celebrate its 112th anniversary in Huntington with its annual Long Island Columbus Day Parade, where residents can take in the colors of green, white and red, authentic Italian costumes, and witness the musical talents of high school marching bands.
The parade will bring Italian American pride to the Town of Huntington, and will take place on Sunday, Oct. 8, during the weekend of the annual Long Island Fall Festival celebration at Heckscher Park.
Members of 24 OSIA lodges in Nassau and Suffolk will be participating in the parade, holding their banners and marching with pride.
Parade Chair Keith Wilson, who has been organizing the event for six years, said the parade has been going on for 20 years.
“We’re looking forward to a nice turnout this year,” Wilson said. “We’re going to have a nice day.”
Wilson said it’s important to continue the parade to keep traditions alive. He added, “We want to respect our founder who discovered America and to make sure the legacy continues.”
Kicking off at 12 noon, the 1.5-mile parade route will be held on Main Street in Huntington village, starting at the intersection of Park Avenue and West Main Street and continues to West Neck Road and West Main Street.
Several high school marching bands are sure to entertain the crowd with their musical performances. Participating bands include East Meadow High School, W.T. Clarke High School, Kings Park High School, Walt Whitman High School, Islip High School, Deer Park High School and more.
Grand Marshals for the parade will be Robert Fonti, Suffolk County legislative liaison, and America’s Got Talent singing sensation Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti.
Wilson said it’s exciting to have Valentinetti, who will be singing the National Anthem, and Fonti as the Grand Marshals this year. He added that Fonti helped the OSIA facilitate the parade for a number of years. “He’s done a great job and deserves the recognition as the Grand Marshal.”
There will also be two special guests, Lou Kron, owner of Madison Steak House in Hauppauge, and Christopher Columbus himself, portrayed by Lou Gallo, chairman of the state Commission of Social Justice.
The parade is hosted by the Town of Huntington, Supervisor Frank Petrone, OSIA State President Robert M. Ferrito and the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce.