The Order Sons of Italy in America, Massachusetts Grand Lodge (OSIAMA), has made a late decision not to march in Boston’s North End 2013 Columbus Day Parade. Citing a changing demographic, the Italian-American organization told the North End organizers that it will instead march in the City of Revere this year.
“They really left us hanging, citing a demographic shift that supposedly shows a greater percentage of Italians in Revere than the North End,” said Louis Strazzullo, President of the North End Columbus Day Celebration Committee. “It doesn’t make sense. Even with the changes in the neighborhood, this is still Boston’s Little Italy,” he added.
Encompassing one of the three divisions of the North End parade, the OSIAMA member lodges have marched in the North End since the early 1990’s, according to Strazzullo. The Grand Lodge makes the decision that directs all its member lodges in cities and towns throughout Massachusetts.
The City of Revere is attempting to restore its Columbus Day parade for the first time since it was discontinued in 2009 due to budget cuts. In Boston, the annual Christopher Columbus Day Parade alternates each year between the North End (odd years) and East Boston (even years).
OSIAMA President Carmelita Bello, reached via phone, offered no comment other than to say “the council voted.” She said that someone in their office would provide more information but no further response has been received. (Ed: 9/12/13 update: Ms. Bello has since responded in the comments section.)
In an letter dated August 28, 2013, the Grand Lodge made its announcement to its lodge leadership, “The annual Columbus Day Parade will be held on Monday, October 14, 2013 in Revere. … We hope that a large contingent from your lodge will join us at this prominent event, which provides the Order Sons of Italy in America with a tremendous opportunity for visibility and recognition throughout the Italian-American community.” The letter did not address why the group’s two decade support for the North End has ceased. Apparently, the group decided not to march in both parades with the North End on Sunday and Revere on Monday.
It is not clear if the Revere parade will continue beyond this year on an annual basis, nor if the OSIAMA will again choose it over the East Boston parade in 2014.
For his part, the North End’s Strazzullo said, “The North End Columbus Day Committee is working hard to make the 2013 Columbus Day Parade the best one ever! We look forward to everyone coming out on Sunday, October 13th at 1:00 pm.”
The North End committee has the support of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and a full contingent of marching bands, military/veteran groups, religious/feast societies as well as various local organizations. Several Italian groups are also expected to participate including the Consul General of Italy.
Complimenting this year’s North End parade will be Stephen’s Run, a 5K charity run to honor Stephen Perez on Sunday morning, starting and ending on Hanover Street in Boston’s North End. In addition, the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park are planning a separate family event on Monday at the namesake park.
In the meantime, watch scenes from the 2011 North End Columbus Day Parade: