BELLEVILLE, NJ - The 35th Annual Nutley-Belleville Columbus Day Parade Gala was held on Thursday, Sept. 28 at Nanina’s in the Park in Belleville.

This year’s Grand Marshal is Alfred Orazio Lembo Jr. Honorees include Nutley Woman of the Year Marie Vicchiariello; Belleville Woman of the Year Cindy Sica; Nutley Man of the Year Police Chief Thomas J. Strumolo; Belleville Man of the Year Police Chief Mark Minichini and Renaissance Man Henry Meola. Italian Heritage Award recipient is Dr. Louis J. Crupi of Nutley, Italian Business Leader is John Apicella of Belleville and Community Excellence Award honoree is Ruth Bedford. Lifetime Achievement honoree is Anthony Iannarone.

Although there is no Bella Signorine for the first time this year, the committee chose to give out scholarships to seniors Alana Gabriele of Nutley High School and Faizah Chowdhury of Belleville High School.

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Friends and family gathered at the cocktail hour to and meet and greet the honorees. Parade chairperson Bill Freda welcomed the guests before the dinner thanking everyone for attending the annual parade fundraiser.

All stood quietly as Romini Perri, 8, sang the Italian National Anthem, “Il Canto degli Italiani” and then "The Star-Spangled Banner" was also performed.

The Rev. Tom Nicastro, committee member, gave the invocation. He asked that everyone honor and respect Christopher Columbus for his discovery. “In unity we can and will accomplish much in our ethnic pursuits,” he said.

Parade co-chairperson Ben Costa thanked his fellow committee members for the hard work they did to put the parade together all year long.

Guests included Assemblyman Ralph R. Caputo, D-Essex; Nutley Mayor and Public Works Commissioner Joseph P. Scarpelli; Belleville Mayor Raymond Kimble; Nutley Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci; Nutley Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco and Nutley Public Affairs Commissioner Steven L. Rogers.

Parade committee officers include Bill Freda, chairperson; Ben Costa, co-chairperson; Rosemary Costa, secretary; Barbara Freda, treasurer and Edie Peters Liguori, trustee. Members include The Rev. Tom Nicastro; Pasquale Meola; John V. Kelly III; Vito Matturro; Melissa Matturo; Anthony Santasieri; Susan R. LaMorte; Diane Stanzione; Joseph Gencarelli and Vincent Cozzarelli, Belleville third ward councilman.

The Nutley-Belleville Columbus Day Parade will be held Sunday, Oct. 8 at 1:30 p.m. The parade will kick-off from Belleville High School on Passaic Avenue, proceeding north to Joralemon Street to Franklin Avenue toward Nutley. The viewing stand will be stationed in front of John H. Walker Middle School.