Arts & Entertainment

Westfield Residents Celebrate Columbus Day, Honor Football Coach

Westfield's Columbus Day festivities were moved indoors due to rain. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
John Ricerca presents Jim DeSarno with a plaque. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
Westfield's Columbus Day festivities were moved indoors due to rain.
Westfield's Columbus Day festivities were moved indoors due to rain.

WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield’s first-ever Columbus Day Parade was canceled due to rain and festivities were moved indoors Sunday to the Westfield Italian American Club. Most of the morning’s speeches included a defense of Columbus Day and Christopher Columbus.

“We’re not honoring the man, we’re honoring the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus,”  Union County UNICO President Robert Tarte said. “Christopher Columbus was not an evil man. Unfortunately, people tend to judge his actions by 21st Century standards, and we cannot do that. We have to honor him for all the good things that he did.”

“Where would America be right now, you know,  how would history have changed if he hadn’t taken that voyage? It’s something to think about,” Mayor Andy Skibtsky said to the audience. “There are people who want, you know, to get rid of the holiday. I’m of the opinion that, you look at what’s happening across the country and in Manhattan — the Columbus Circle statue is now being guarded 24 hours a day. People are vandalizing it. And some activists say that by honoring Christopher Columbus we’re white-washing history. Well, you know, I disagree. I say there’s too much hate in the world, too much acrimony in this world. Let’s celebrate the good. Let’s celebrate the positive.

Sign Up for E-News

“Let’s celebrate Columbus Day,” he continued, “the day the nation recognizes not only the voyage and how he changed the course of history, but also the heritage of Italian-Americans and all they have contributed to this country, both in the business sector and culturally.”

The days’ grand marshal was Jim DeSarno, assistant principal at Westfield High School and head coach of the WHS football team, which won its 30th straight game Friday against Union.

“But he’s not being honored simply because of his coaching skills,” the mayor said. “It’s also for what he does teaching our youth, the leadership skills that he shows, the character that he helps build in our children, our students, and also what he gives back to the community.”

Skibitsky thanked DeSarno for being a great advocate for the Westfield PAL program.

“One of the truly positive and great things about Westfield that I’ve had is the opportunity to work with so many great parents, so many great community members, and it’s what makes this town so great,” DeSarno said. “People do what I do, they coach all over the country, and all they do is tell horror stories about the parents they deal with, the kids they deal with, and I don’t have those stories. This is truly a wonderful town. I’ve had 12 great years and I look forward to many, many more.”

The event was organized by the Westfield Italian American Club and Westfield UNICO.

“Next year the new plan is to have a larger parade,” Tarte said. That parade will probably be planned for the weekend before Columbus Day, he said, so that the UNICO National float, which is wanted for other Columbus Day parades, will be available.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


5 Arrested in Connection with Prostitution at Union Spa

April 20, 2018

UNION, NJ – Union police arrested a man and four women in connection with a prostitution business at a local spa on Morris Avenue.

In September 2017, Union police made arrests at the Birchwood Oils – Essential Oil Rub Treatments -  when they discovered it to be a place of prostitution, police said.

According to police, they continued to monitor the location and discovered ...

2018 Municipal Budget is on Collision Course with Principles of Financial Soundness & Stability

April 18, 2018

Having chaired the town council’s finance committee in the recent past, I appreciate the hard work that goes into developing a municipal budget for a town as large and dynamic as Westfield. But as I have expressed publicly and also to the mayor and my council colleagues, I do not support the adoption of Westfield’s 2018 municipal budget. Although the budget contains much that I ...

Upcoming Events


Sat, April 21, 9:30 AM

Westfield Area YMCA, Westfield

Westfield Area YMCA Camp Open House

Sat, April 21, 10:00 AM

Tamaques Park, Brightwood Park & Mindowaskin Park, Westfield

Westfield 2018 Spring Clean-Up

Giving Back Government Green


Sat, April 21, 1:30 PM

Westfield Area YMCA, Westfield

Free Aquatics Healthy Kids Day

Health & Wellness Sports

Westfield Police Blotter: Residence Burglarized & More

April 18, 2018

April 11, 2018 10:23 a.m.

Raymond Rodgers, 56, of Westfield, NJ was arrested in the area of E. Broad Street. Rodgers was arrested pursuant to an unrelated traffic investigation. Rogers was transported to Westfield Police HQ without incident. At WPD HQ, Rodgers was processed and released after posting the full bail amount ($250). Rodgers was arrested on the strength of an outstanding Westfield ...

In London Town - NJFO Season Finale

April 20, 2018

On Saturday May 19 and Sunday May 20, the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, under the baton of David Wroe, presents a magnificent 35th anniversary season finale celebration of music linked in some way to England and its great city of London.

The concert opens with Sir Edward Elgar’s exhilarating Introduction and Allegro for Strings, a work composed in 1905 to enable the string section ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Edison Students Participate in Beta Test of Google Augmented Reality App

Students and teachers at Edison Intermediate School participated in a recent beta test of a Google application that uses augmented reality technology to explore the inner workings of plant cells, the functions and framework of the human skeletal system, and other educational subjects.

Edison Media Specialist Andrew Cusumano arranged for a Google representative to visit the school on April 9 to ...

Get Your Home Ready for Summer Before its TOO HOT

Finally, the weather is getting warmer and you are shedding those down coats. Now is a great time to start thinking about summer and getting your home prepared. Paying attention to a few maintenance items can alleviate painful repairs later on if you wait too long. The line ahead of you will build as the summer rush starts. So, let’s not wait.

Check your roof   (hire the expert ...

Why We Keep Kosher

Why We Keep Kosher

This week's parshah, Shemini, introduces the Torah's dietary laws. Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves to be kosher, fish need fins and scales, and a list of forbidden fowl is enumerated.

To those of us in Jewish education, it is a continuing source of disappointment that so many Jews still believe the kosher laws to be outdated.

Hellenic Therapy Center

April 13, 2018

Dropping Off Our Kids At College – Learning How To Adjust

Hellenic Therapy Center


Whether your kid is a freshman entering college for the first time or returning back to college, there are so many emotions we experience as parents.  There are differences in a parent’s reaction to the departure of a first child, an only child or even the last child.  Feelings ...


Oct 21, 1944 - Apr 14, 2018
Kathleen A. Hertell passed away peacefully with family at her bedside on April 14, 2018. Loving ...
Read more

Mets Sign Patriots Pitcher Before He Can Unpack His Gear

April 20, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — The Somerset Patriots have announced that right-hand pitcher Scott Copeland’s contract has been purchased by the New York Mets.

So, instead of stretching out and getting in shape at TD Bank Ballpark, he's been sent to extended spring training at the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

The 6’3” righty broke into the big leagues in ...