ELIZABETH, NJ--- Union County's ninth annual Columbus Day Flag Raising event was held Friday, Oct. 6, at 1 p.m., on the steps of the Union County Courthouse.

Freeholder Chairman Bruce Bergen, Freeholders Alexander Mirabella, Bette Jane Kowalski, Vernell Wright, Angel Estrada and County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi were all in attendance at the event.

“This year, we have a very diverse group of speakers who will address the audience on some interesting cultural topics,” Freeholder Alexander Mirabella, the events emcee said. “Italian-Americans continue to make extraordinary contributions to the rich, diverse fabric of America---a country we all love, and who our ancestors helped discover and build.”

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The keynote speakers included, Let’s Play in Italian Language and Cultural Center owner Catiana Celentano,  Netta Architects founder and owner, Nick Netta, and from Seton Hall, Dr. William Connell, an author, and a nationally-recognized historian on Italy.

The Let’s Play in Italian center teaches young children, adults, parents and caregivers to learn the Italian language and the Italian culture. It is the only state-licensed Italian educational school serving pre-K and kindergarten in New Jersey.

Netta Architects have become a leading public sector design firm in Northern New Jersey, and has received numerous design awards. Netta Architects has designed a large number of landmark buildings.in Union County, including the Union County Family Courthouse (Cherry Street Annex), the Warinanco Park Sports and Skating Center, the Galloping Hill Clubhouse, Vo Tech West Hall, and Union County College expansion at Cranford.

Dr. Connell is the holder of the Joseph M. and Geraldine C. La Motta Chair in Italian studies at Seton Hall, and a leading specialist in the history of Italy. He is also an authority on Renaissance Florence and Machiavelli.  

Other scheduled speakers at the event included: Al Mirabella, Union County Freeholder, Al Faella, County Manager who is being honored by the Elizabeth Chapter of UNICO as Man of the Year later this month. 

Also speaking at the event, Renato Biribin, Plainfield UNICO Founder, Manny Alfano, Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition President and Anthony Bengivenga, UNICO National Membership and Retention Director. Resolutions will also be presented to all Chapters of UNICO in District X.

UNICO is the nation's largest Italian American service organization whose chapters and members engage in promoting and defending Italian culture and heritage, as well as providing scholarships, engaging in community service and other philanthropic endeavors.


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