Editor’s Note: The author is a publicist for the Yorktown Feast of San Gennaro.
Dorothea LaScala has lived in northern Westchester with husband, William, for more than a half-century. I’ve lived in Yorktown for less than half that time. The LaScalas moved to Yorktown from New York City in 1963. Our family moved here 30 years later.
It didn’t take me long to find out why Dottie LaScala is one of the area’s most beloved residents: She’s the kind of person worthy of receiving the rare honor of being named grand marshal of the 2017 Yorktown Feast of San Gennaro. Mrs. LaScala gets that much love because she gives that much to her community and those who live in it.
Being named a grand marshal, she says, is “an amazing honor. I hope to continue to share and celebrate my heritage, and pinch myself that this is actually happening.”
After learning of the honor, says Dottie, “All I could think of was my grandparents, and how proud they would be. All my family, here and in Italy, are very, very proud. We are lucky to have a beautiful and loving Italian family.” Dottie and Willie have three daughters, 11 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
She was born in East Harlem on 121st Street and First Avenue. Her grandparents were very active parishioners at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on E. 115th Street.
“When the big feast happened each year, my family was very involved,” she says. “I cherish the sweet memories of those days. My Italian heritage and the culture I grew up in have been a very important part of my life.
“When I finally got the opportunity to visit Italy, and the town where my family came from (Laurino, in the province of Salerno in Naples),” she says, “I reconnected with my family there, and have been going back to visit many times over the past 20 years.”
As fate would have it, her presiding over the Sept. 13-17 Yorktown Feast will come a few weeks after her trip to Italy with her three daughters, to participate in the August feast there.
As this year’s grand marshal of the Yorktown Feast, Dottie earns the added distinction of being the first female to wear the Italianate green-white-and-red sash as official ambassador of the immensely popular local celebration, now in its third year. Sonny Graci and Tony Grasso were the first two grand marshals, and still have a high-profile role in the Feast.
Dottie has played a prominent role in local cultural organizations. “About 15 years ago,” says Mrs. LaScala, “I was asked to attend a Circolo da Vinci meeting, The speaker was Professor Aldo Belardo, and he was talking about Dante. I was hooked, and joined.”
Founded in 1982, the mission of the Circolo da Vinci Italian-American Organization of Yorktown is “to raise awareness of the many contributions made to civilization by Italians and Italian-Americans [and] to keep our heritage and culture alive.” (facebook.com/CircoloDaVinci).
“Not only did I get the opportunity to meet some fantastic people,” she adds, “but I continued to learn about the many contributions that Italians have made to civilization. I am also proud to be part of a group who share my love and interest of all things Italian.”
Not surprisingly, given her lust for life and extraordinary people skills, Dottie has served four terms as president of Circolo da Vinci, and continues to be an active part of that great organization. In fact, it was at Circolo’s dinner earlier this year that she was surprised with the grand marshal announcement from Feast organizers Thomas Pomposello and Michael DiCostanzo.
Accomplishments pile up quickly for someone as driven as Dottie. After settling in Yorktown, she opened and operated LaScala’s Bridal in Jefferson Valley for 25 years.
Dottie served as a Girl Scout leader for five years, and taught CCD for nine years at St. Patrick’s Church in Yorktown.
Her new grand marshal status isn’t the first honor to come her way. She was awarded the National Bridal Service award of achievement by National Bridal Service Organization in 1978. In 1986, Westchester County Executive Andrew O’Rourke named her a Successful Business Woman of the Year.
Last year, she was selected as one of the recipients of the Women of Distinction Award of the 40th Senate District by state Sen. Terrence Murphy.
Somehow, she finds time to excel at hobbies like stained glass and mosaics. Her 3-by-five-foot rendition of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt’s famous oil painting “The Kiss” placed second in a national contest.
For more information on the Yorktown Feast of San Gennaro, visit facebook.com/yorktownfeastofsangennaro.