The traditional purple painted stripe was vividly seen in the center of Franklin Avenue on Sunday, Oct. 13. Nutley and Belleville once again joined together to host the only Columbus Day Parade in Essex County. The 37th annual parade also celebrates Italian Heritage month.

The 2-mile parade kicked off from Belleville High School on Passaic Avenue, proceeded north to Joralemon Street to Franklin Avenue toward Nutley ended at the viewing stand in front of John H. Walker Middle School.

The Carabinieri (the Italian Police) again came to march in the parade. Other participants included the Nutley Maroon Raider Marching Band, Nutley Police and Fire Departments, Belleville Police and Fire Departments and Nutley Volunteer Emergency and Rescue Squad.

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The 37th annual Nutley-Belleville Columbus Day Parade honorees; part one of two:

Grand Marshal

AJ “Buddy” Fortunato was born and raised in Montclair, and graduated from Montclair High School. He earned his bachelors of science degree from Rider College. He was an outstanding varsity baseball and football player at MHS, receiving First Team All-State honors in his sophomore, junior and senior years. He received the prestigious AAU James E. Sullivan Award. In 1999, Fortunato was selected as one of the Top Scholastic Athletes of the 20th Century by The Star-Ledger.

Fortunato began his career in finance with Merrill Lynch in New York City. He was elected to the New Jersey State Assembly in 1977 and served for eight years. As a legislator, he served as chairman of both the Transportation and Communications Committees. He also served as chairman of the Independent Authorities Commission overseeing Atlantic City Casinos. His legislation – the Atlantic City Re-investment Credit has had a great impact on the industry. He also oversaw the Boxing Commission in New Jersey, which led him to appear before the U.S. Congress to present his case for increased safety in the sport.

He purchased the Italian Tribune from his mother-in-law in 1999, and assumed the position of publisher.

Fortunato’s many awards and accolades include a distinguished decoration from the Italian government presented by the late Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing, founder of Boys’ Towns of Italy; the prestigious Lo Stivale d’Oro award from the Associazione Ieri, Oggi, Domani and the 2006 Man of the Year award from the Columbian Foundation; and 2009 President’s Award from the Federation of Italian American Societies of New Jersey. He was inducted into the National Italian American Hall of Fame and also received the Unico National Rizzuto Award in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was knighted in St. Patrick’s Cathedral as a Knight of Malta, the highest honor the Catholic Church bestows on a lay person.

Fortunato and his wife of 46 years, Marion (Alagna) have two children, Jeffrey (Aleksandra) Fortunato and Sissy (James Hurley) and five grandchildren, Austin, Dallas and Lilliana Hurley and Alli and Jeffrey Fortunato

Lifetime Achiement Award

Gina Tamburri of Belleville, was the deputy grand marshal for the annual Nutley-Belleville Columbus Day and Italian Heritage Month Parade in 2007.

Tamburri was born and raised in Castelpetroso, Italy. She married Alessio Tamburri in Italy and moved to the United States in 1962.

Tamburri volunteers at Holy Family Church in Nutley, and served as church trustee, finance committee member, Rosarian (Rosary Altar Society), and a member of the Parish Council. She served 19 years as chairperson of the Societa’ Orlundi Castellani, to honor Maria Santissima Addolorata (Our Lady of Sorrows). She began Holy Family Church’s annual Italian Festival and has chaired the event for 27 years.

She was the recipient of the Jubilee Medal Pro Meritis for distinguished service within the Archdiocese of Newark in April 2000. She was also presented with the Archdiocesan Sesquicentennial Cathedral Golden Jubilee Medal in October 2004. She received the Steward of The Month Award in October 2005. The Knights of Columbus, Holy Family Council 14712 presented the Santa Maria Medal for Catholic Service and Leadership to Tamburri and her husband in October 2016.

In 1991, her son died from cancer and she began The Enrico Tamburri Memorial Foundation. To date, this foundation has helped hundreds of children and their families in the community stricken with serious illnesses. The foundation also provides an annual scholarship to local students.

Tamburri was the moderator of the Essex County chapter of the Compassionate Friends, a non-for-profit, self-help group dedicated to helping and healing of bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents.

In September 2000, the State of New Jersey presented Tamburri with the first Italian-American Woman of the Year Award.

In addition, she was recognized by Congressman Bill Pascrell, Richard J. Cody and the U.S. Senate for her efforts and strong support of her community and received numerous awards and accolades for her distinguished service. Tamburri was the 2011 recipient of the Festa Italiana Award for outstanding support and dedication to the Italian Community.

The Tamburris have two children, Joanna and her husband Tony Heaton, and the late Enrico. They also have two grandsons Anthony Enrico and Alexander Kenneth.

Italian Heritage Award

Francesca Roselli nee Pignataro, is daughter of Vincenzo and Cosimina. The family moved here from Acri, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy. She has two siblings, Daniela and Liliana.

Roselli graduated from New York University with a bachelors and master’s degree in occupational therapy.

From a very young age she would come home with children, injured from playing, some that she knew and others that were strangers and bandage them up. Stray animals usually followed her home for a meal and water unbeknownst to her parents.

She has dedicated her life to helping others. This calling goes beyond her 9-to-5 day, and she is often reaching out to help those in need, giving her knowledge and service.

Roselli grew up in a large Italian family, spending Sunday’s together having a traditional Italian meal, with pasta. They continue many of the old traditions such as making their own gravy (sauce), wine, and sausage and have gardens from which they jar tomato sauce, peppers and eggplant. They also have fish on Christmas Eve, and bake Easter bread with hard-boiled eggs cooked in it. They have also play traditional Italian games, including bocce ball and cards.

Roselli served on the Lay Leadership Committee at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Nutley. She serves, acting as a voice and listening to the needs of the parish to help achieve a peaceful environment for all parishioners. She helped organize St. Mary’s 140th anniversary gala. She is also part of the Rosary Society and Social Concerns Committee of St. Mary’s. In addition, she serves as a Eucharistic minister.

She was also Girl Scout leader from 2003-2007 and from 2011- 2018 for her children. The troop participated in events with the Nutley Family Service Bureau such as donating food, especially Thanksgiving baskets for needy families, and adopting a family at Christmas, donated to the hurricane relief and helped serve at the Care Kitchen. For their Bronze Award project they worked on a town wide community project, along with the Walker Foundation and the Scarpelli Civic Association, as well as the elementary schools to bring “buddy benches” to each school. The goal was to foster inclusion at the elementary schools.

Roselli has also served as PTO president, organized a sixth grade school function, and the NHS fashion show for her son’s senior class. She also helped fundraise for her son’s NHS Crew team to purchase needed equipment.

Roselli and her husband Mark, of 23 years, have three children Sarah, Noah, and Delilah.

Italian Business Leaders

Business patterners Joseph Capasso and Dino Vitagliano of Bella Luce restaurant share the honor this year.

Capasso was born and raised in the Stephen Crane Section of Newark, and attended Ridge Street and First Avenue Schools. He attended Bloomfield Technical School in Bloomfield studying carpentry. He was a residential and commercial carpenter for many years and was actively involved in Local 1342 Carpentry Union in Bloomfield.

He is the son of Thomas and Eleanor Capasso, both raised in Newark. His father’s family is from Naples, Italy and his mother’s family is from Sicily. He has three sisters, Pamela Scarpella, Toni Capasso and the late Eileen Byrne.

He always helps at Holy Family Church’s Italian Festival. For eight years, Capasso and his wife Christine, chaired the hot dog stand at Holy Family Feast along with some of his friends, including Dino Vitagliano (also Italian Business Leader) and Vitagliano’s father Al.

Together with his partner, Vitagliano, they are involved in St. Lucy’s Church, the Knights of Columbus, Nutley Chamber of Commerce and all the sports leagues in Nutley, Belleville, Bloomfield and Verona.

He and his wife Christine have been married for 24 years and have three children, Gianna, Alexa and Olivia.

Vitagliano was born and raised in Newark. Sunday dinners were shared with the many family members he lived near, delighting in all the best of nonno and nona’s specialties. Vitagliano is an active parishioner at St. Lucy’s Church in Newark.

After working in the restaurant business for a while he partnered with Capasso, and opened their first restaurant Luce in Caldwell in early 2001 and sustained their journey for 14 years. Because Capasso and Vitagliano decided to extend their menu and add top-shelf cocktails, they relocated to Nutley and re-opened as Bella Luce on March 26, 2015.

Renaissance Men

Salvatore Scarpelli is a lifelong resident of Nutley. A 2004 graduate of Nutley High School, he continued his studies at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia receiving a bachelor’s of science degree in computer science and minor in music.

He is an information technology technician in the Township of Nutley’s Office of Information Technology and also serves as the graphic designer for the various municipal departments. 

Scarpelli is the president of the Nutley Music Boosters Association and previously served as corresponding and recording secretaries. He has been involved in the organization since 2005.

He is also actively involved in the Scarpelli Civic Association, the Township’s Go Green Committee and co-manager of the Nutley Farmers Market. 

Scarpelli is the 2017 recipient of the Nutley Jaycees Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Young Man. 

He is the son of Mayor and Public Works Commissioner Joseph and Suzanne Scarpelli.

Matthew Genitempo is born and raised in Nutley. He is a 2015 NHS graduate and is attending Montclair State University double majoring in justice systems and international justice, and plans to graduate in the spring of 2020.

He has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in August 2013, where he built houses for tornado victims, framing the entire structure of the house. He also volunteered with Next Step Ministries in Fond Blanc, Haiti in August 2014, preparing foundation to build a church for a local orphanage, constructed a retaining wall and built the floor of the second story of a secondary housing unit.

Genitempo also worked with a small community church in Alderson, West Virginia. He is proficient with all types of hand and power tools. He is also skilled in computer automated drafting as well as drafting by hand.

He has mastered reading and writing the Arabic language, and served an internship with the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness in the Communications Bureau.

He is currently a bartender at Franklin Steakhouse, while finishing his education. He is pursuing a career in law enforcement.

Genitempo is the son of Joanne and Alan Genitempo, Esq. and has two brothers, Anthony and Alan and a sister Jessica.


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