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Howard Beach rings in Columbus Day with grand parade

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Photo gallery

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Children from the 207 Kiwanis Club sport their green and red for the annual Columbus Day Parade in Howard Beach Sunday. More photos on Page 16 Photo by Christina Santucci
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Gianna Iannone wears her Italian pride on her face. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Angelina Moccia and Joe Mauro wave flags from the roof of a Fiat as it crosses the red carpet. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Singer Lucas Prada (l.) leads children in a live rendition of his hit song. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Simona Rodano, the Italian Fairy, marches to promote her show. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Rosario and Rodica Digiovanna ride a Lambretta in the parade. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Girl Scouts Cadettes from St. Barnabus Troop 4628 show off their dance moves. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Members of La Zagara Associazione Artistica e Culturale wear traditional Italian clothing. Photo by Christina Santucci
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John Samighetti of Ozone Park wears a flag as a cape. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Robert Mestrandrea leads fellow students from Ave Maria Catholic Academy down Cross Bay Boulevard during the Howard Beach Columbus Day Parade. Photo by Christina Santucci

Cross Bay Boulevard was full of green, white and red Sunday as hundreds marched in the sixth-annual Columbus Day Parade in Howard Beach as even more watched from the sidelines.

While the parade, organized by the Howard Beach Columbus Day Foundation, was an early celebration of the Oct. 12 holiday, it was an opportunity for Italian Americans to celebrate their roots. Floats blasted Italian music along with pop songs, a Sicilian folk dancing troupe showed off their moves in traditional costume and many kids and adults waved the Italian green, white and red flag.

“It’s nice to show the younger generation part of our heritage,” said Howard Beach resident Tina Eraccioforte, 39.

The parade, which ran along Cross Bay Boulevard from 157th to 164th avenues, is the biggest Columbus Day celebration in the borough, according to the foundation’s website. The hundreds of participants came from schools, Girl Scout troops, student marching bands and pipe-and-drum corps. Spirits were high during the unseasonably hot and muggy but sunny day.

It was also the first major public celebration for newly elected U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Howard Beach) and state Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach). Turner and Goldfeder marched near the front of the parade along with fellow electeds City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), state Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and Democratic District Leader Frank Gulluscio.

“What makes it great is seeing the faces of the kids,” Goldfeder said. “They’re enjoying the culture either their own or someone else’s.”

The parade also hosted special guests such as singer Lucas Prata, Frankie Buglione of reality show “Jerseylicious” and 2011’s Miss New York Kaitlin Monte, who will be a participant in the Miss America contest. Monte said she has a Polish and Sicilian background.

“It’s so nice to come out and be celebrating that,” she said.

Howard Beach resident Zulia Lowery, 40, said she is not Italian but married an Italian and appreciated the chance to experience the culture.

“You get a chance to see the music, the dancing, the clothes,” she said.

John Sanighetti, an Ozone Park resident who came to the parade with the Italian flag draped about him like a cape, said it was his and his son’s first time at the parade and he was enjoying the festivities.

“I’m Italian,” he said. “Everybody’s got to like Italians.”

Addabbo said the foundation does a great job promoting the positive influence of Italian Americans.

“It gets bigger and better every year,” he said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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