SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Listing both great contributions in history as well as an impassioned speech regarding the marvelous accomplishments of Christopher Columbus, Santi Buscemi  President of the Plainfields’ of UNICO Chapter left attendees both teary eyed and proud of their Italian heritage at the annual Columbus Day Celebration at the South Plainfield Senior Center.

“Christopher Columbus, this most important of navigators did not simply find a new hemisphere, but served to unite two worlds,” said Buscemi. Buscemi, the Key Note Speaker of the day’s event seemed to unite everyone, young and old with his stories of Italian heritage and legacy among family.

UNICO’s Columbus celebration brought out a sea of elected officials including Congressman Frank Pallone, South Plainfield Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, South Plainfield Council President Derryck White, Councilman Ray Rusnak, South Plainfield School Board President Debbie Boyle, South Plainfield School Board members Carol Byrne and Bill Sesselberg, and North Plainfield Mayor Michael Giordano Jr. Also in attendance, Interim Superintendent Dr. Johanna Ruberto, Acting Principal of South Plainfield High School Ronnie Spring, and South Plainfield Police Chief James Parker. South Plainfield Councilman Robert Bengivenga was the day’s Master of Ceremonies.

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“We celebrate our diversity in America and that started with Christopher Columbus,” said Assemblyman Diegnan. “With his spirit of adventure and challenging borders. His spirit became the spirit of America, and this is the one day out of the year I can say I’m Italian.”

South Plainfield Council President Derryck White presented April Bengivenga, Chairperson of the Columbus Day Committee, with a proclamation declaring October as Italian Heritage and Cultural Month. Today we are all Italians, said White. “I can be Derryck Bianco.”

“It was an honor to MC today’s Columbus Day Program,” said South Plainfield Councilman Robert Bengivenga. “Columbus Day is very special to me, and by the crowd and the number of dignitaries in attendance, my feelings are not alone.”

One of the dignitaries in attendance was United States Congressman Frank Pallone. “It isn’t only Columbus that we celebrate, but the spirit of innovation and discovery,” said Pallone.

North Plainfield Michael Giordano said “It is great to be here today to celebrate our heritage and Columbus’ fearless approach to navigation and exploration.”

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South Plainfield High School’s choir and color guard performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and South Plainfield High School’s award-winning marching band played the Italian national anthem during the raising of the Italian flag.

Deacon Wayne Otlowski from Sacred Heart Church performed both the invocation and the benediction during the Columbus Day celebration festivities.

After the flag raising ceremony, there was a brief reception inside the Senior Center. After the reception, the UNICO members set sail on their own voyage. There was a bus waiting outside the Senior Center to take the members to the Columbus Day parade in New York City. The trip would include all of today’s modern conveniences such as iPhones, GPS, and air-conditioning, but to the UNICO members on board it was a day to celebrate the man with a little more than a compass and a ruler that in 1492 sailed the ocean blue.