NUTLEY, NJ - After marching, the Nutley-Belleville Columbus Day Parade Committee invited the Carabinieri (the Italian Police), and the honorees and their families to celebrate with a traditional Italian feast at Franklin Steakhouse in Nutley.

Food included calamari, chicken francaise, eggplant rollatini, sausage and peppers, ziti with meat sauce, and buffalo wings. A cake was served to celebrate the annual event.

The 37th annual Nutley-Belleville Columbus Day Parade honorees; :

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Nutley Woman of the Year

Marie Lucarella Solimo is a first generation Italian American who was born and raised in Newark. Her father emigrated from the town of Larino in the region of Abruzzo, and her mother’s family hails from Benevento.

Solimo graduated Our Lady of Good Counsel High School and attended Bloomfield College. She is a lifelong parishioner of St. Lucy’s Church in Newark. She was raised in Newark’s First Ward, which was known as the “Little Italy” of the city.

Solimo took a hiatus from work to focus on family. When her children were in elementary school, she worked in the field of medical office administration. For the last 20 years, she has been an administrative assistant in the Department of Orthopedics at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

When her children attended Nutley public schools, she became involved in the Yantacaw School PTO, Nutley Crew Boosters, Nutley High School Football Boosters, and the Nutley High School Music Boosters.

Solimo has been a member Nutley Unico for 19 years, and was elected as the club’s first woman president in 2009. She is District VII 2nd alternate district governor and a member of NIAF (National Italian American Foundation) the Nutley Italian American Alliance, Friends of the Nutley Library, One Voice Collation, Coccia Foundation, and Save the Children.

Solimo and her husband Bob of 48 years have two children, Angela and Robert.

Belleville Woman of the Year

Anna Jannicelli, has resided in Belleville for more than 40 years. She was born in Columbus Hospital in Newark.

Jannicelli attended Newark public schools and pursued a degree in education at Newark State College.

Her parents Catherine San Giorgio and Joseph Giordano were raised “down neck” in Newark. Anna has two siblings Joe Giordano of Roseland and Kathleen Vitale of Roselle Park.

After teaching for 12 years at Queen of Peace Elementary School, she taught in Belleville for 32 years and retired in 2011. She worked with the after school program assisting with social skills, homework, and helping students become independent learners. She also worked at Belleville Public Library’s children’s room.

She is a member of the Veterans of Foreign War Auxiliary where she serves as hospital coordinator organizing and hosts dinners for disabled veterans. She holds the title of patriotic instructor and is instrumental in selecting patriotic essay contest winners.

She also visits schools speaking to children about the importance of loyalty to our country and the dedication of the military. Her late husband, Gayton was a veteran of the Vietnam War.

She is active in the church and the matriarch of her family hosting traditional Italian Sunday dinners.

She has two children Michael and Lauren and one grandson Leo Gaetano, 2.

Nutley Man of the Year

Joe Tesei was born in Newark. His mother, Mildred Caggiano was raised in Montclair and his father, Anthony Tesei was raised in Newark. He has a sister, Maxine Genello of Bloomfield.

Tesei attended Bloomfield High School and Seton Hall University where he majored in elementary education. After briefly teaching in a middle school in Newark, he moved to Nutley and opened Pete’s Delicatessen, where he has owned and operated it for the last 42 years.

He has coached Nutley Recreation soccer and Nutley American Little League Baseball.

Tesei is married to Lesley Copeck and they have three children, Lori, Joey, and Michael and three grandchildren, Michael, Maxton and Mayla.

Belleville Man of the Year

Joseph Pizzi is a lifelong resident of Belleville and attended the Belleville school system. He works security for the New York Jets at Florham Park.

He and his wife Linda Vitiello, of Belleville are married 38 years. They met in Belleville Junior High. The couple has two children, Jillian and Joseph Pizzi Jr.

Pizzi is a retired Belleville firefighter and emergency medical technician. As a firefighter he rescued an unconscious man from a fire and was honored by the township of Belleville, Essex County, and the New Jersey General Assembly. He was vice president and president of our FMBA Local 29 for many years, and a lifelong member of the Relief Association of the NJ State FMBA.

Pizzi coached Belleville youth in football, softball, basketball and little league for many years. He has volunteered whenever he could especially with photography which was one of his hobbies.

He was a member of the Italian Fiorente Club and other civic associations.

Community Excellence Awards

Karen A. Yeamans, Nutley school business administrator and board secretary, grew up in Union County and attended Mother Seton High School. She is an alumna of Montclair State University, where she majored in business administration and accounting.

Yeamans started her career as a staff accountant for a major television and radio manufacturer. She moved into management positions in customer service, sales and collections departments for various corporations. She worked in New York City negotiating airline contracts for large groups to travel all over the world until Sept. 11, 2001.

She was the assistant to the business administrator in Wyckoff, then Hudson County’s Department of Education’s business administrator, where she was the liaison between Trenton and the local public and charter schools throughout the county. She then worked as Kearny School district’s business administrator.

Yeamans has volunteered for Read Across America Day and delivered a speech at a sixth-grade promotion ceremony.

She has served as an officer in both the Hudson and Essex County Association of School Business Officials organizations and recently as the president of the Essex County chapter. On the state association level, she was a trustee and a member of several committees.

Yeamans spent several years performing as the lead singer of bands creating music ranging from pop to country and acting in community theater productions. Years later, she performed with her daughter, Karla, on the stage and as the back-up singer on her recordings.

Yeamans and her husband Joseph live in Clifton. Their daughter, Karla Joelle and her husband, Michael live in Florida.

Walt A. Smith, of Nutley, moved to the township with his wife Suzanne in 1965.

After graduating from Lafayette College he worked for Prudential Insurance in Newark. Smith is self-employed as an insurance, employee benefit and health insurance consultant.

Smith joined the Nutley Jaycees in 1965. He chaired the effort to sell seats for the Jaycee Football Classic, the annual exhibition game held between the Giants and Eagles at Princeton’s Palmer Stadium.

The late Carl A. Orechio, Nutley commissioner, put him in charge of Annie Oakley Day, a full-fledged rodeo staged in Tangorra Field - Nutley Park Oval. The following year the Jaycees and Kiwanis, made the rodeo even bigger with a parade, a greased pig contest and a horse that dived from a 60-foot platform into a tank filled with four feet of water.

Smith was involved with the Nutley Red Cross Chapter and the Montclair-Glen Ridge-Nutley chapter serving as chairman for both chapters and as a director for 23 years. He co-founded the Nutley Senior Baseball League, served 12 years on the board of directors of the Nutley Central Little League (now Nutley East) and was its president for seven years ending in 1987. In 2017 he was named to the Nutley Little League Hall of Fame.

An employee benefit adviser, Smith served as a vice president of the U.S. Jaycees, as well as a vice president, national director, board chairman and president of the 9,000-member New Jersey Jaycees. He was one of founders of Camp Jaycee, a residential summer camp in the Poconos for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Smith was instrumental in the formation of the Walker Foundation in memory of the late Yantacaw School principal John H. Walker, and continues as president. He also led the effort to change the name of Franklin Middle School to John H. Walker Middle School.

He also volunteers with the Boy Scouts’ Scouting for Food annual drive for the Nutley Family Service Bureau’s food Pantry and the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. He is involved with the Jaycees Distinguished Awards dinner, and a board member of the Nutley Senior Citizen Housing Corp. since 1982, where he is treasurer.

Smith chaired and served as an officer for the March of Dimes, volunteered for nine years with the Cerebral Foundation, and was a member of the PTOs at Yantacaw, Franklin and Nutley High schools. He is a past president of the Nutley Republican Club and now Municipal chairman.

He was elected to the Nutley Board of Commissioners serving eight years as director of revenue and finance from 1988-1996. He introduced the first computer system at town hall and during his term, cut the tax rate four times. He also served on the Nutley Planning Board for 10 years.

Smith was appointed to the Mayor’s United Nations Committee in 1967. He was the recipient of the NJ Governor’s Jefferson Award for Public Service June 2, 2018, Nutley Little League Hall of Fame April of 2017, the 2011 William J. Jernick Leadership Award, Nutley Elks, the 2009 Dr. Virginius D. Mattia Public Service Award, American Red Cross “Clara Barton Honor Award” in 1997, and named a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow four times.

He served as Nutley Rotary Club president three times and has been an active member for 33 years.

Smith and his wife Suzanne (Pancottine) have three children, Kris, Dave and Jay, and now three grandchildren Brian, Jasmine and Johnny.

Nutley Scholarship Recipient

Alessandra Santoriello is a graduate of Nutley High School and attends St. Thomas Aquinas College, where she is majoring in sports management and is a goalie on the women’s soccer team.

She is the daughter of Rosa and Robert Santoriello, and sister of Nicholas Santoriello, and granddaughter of Savino and Antoinette Marcotrigiano and Robert and Bernadette Santoriello, all of Nutley. Both sides of her family hail from the province of Salerno, Italy, while her maternal grandfather was born in the province of Bari.

At NHS, Santoriello achieved the high honor roll every semester, was elected to the National Honor Society and the Italian Honor Society, and earned the Bi-literacy Seal from the New Jersey Department of Education. She was also a four-year varsity letter winner for the soccer team and a member of Student Council.

Outside of school, she was captain of the club soccer team (TSF Academy), is an active member of Holy Family Church in Nutley, and has served as a volunteer counselor at several youth soccer camps.

Belleville Scholarship Recipient

Derek Pasquale Lombardi Jr. graduated from Belleville High School in June 2019 and is attending Essex County Community College. He is studying to become a firefighter and continuing to do community service.


Related Article: Nutley and Belleville Celebrate Italian Heritage Month at Annual Columbus Day Parade


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