Despite the rain, the parade and celebrations for the annual Columbus Day festival went off without a hitch. Nothing could stop the processional of marching bands, dignitaries, dance troops, beauty queens, and civic groups from displaying their talents and pride on Sunday afternoon as part of a New Haven tradition.
Charlotte Gambardella, treasurer of the New Haven Columbus Day Committee, said that Mayor John DeStefano wanted this year’s event to “not just be a parade, but a celebration that kids and adults could enjoy.”
Gambardella estimated that over 500 people showed up for the parade and festivities.
The parade commenced at the Green and concluded at lower Wooster Square Park.
Mayor DeStefano, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and Columbus Day Committee members watched from a stage as people lined the sidewalks and viewed the parade.
Children’s activities included pony rides, a live petting zoo, a hay maze, balloon creations, and a chance to sit in a police car, fire truck, mini bulldozer, garbage truck, and SWAT truck.
Adult activities included wine tasting, massages, live music, voting registration, art, and more. Local restaurants set up trucks and sold pizza, Italian ices, calzones, hot soup, popcorn, and cupcakes.
Anthony Cavaliere (pictured) drove one of the featured cars in the parade, as he done for many years. “It’s a shame it’s raining, but it seems like everyone is still enjoying it,” said Cavaliere.
Zuleika Garcia and her children Jareli, Gabriel, and Jailya (pictured) all waited in line for a balloon creation, despite the rain. They were prepared for the weather with umbrellas. Garcia said her group missed the parade, but, “we’re going to stay for a while and do all the kids stuff.” Garcia added, “They just got a picture with the Mayor!”
Ramona Campbell and Michelle Ahmad stood under an umbrella as they took pictures with their phones of Christopher Highsmith (Campbell’s nephew and Ahmad’s grandson) who cheerfully posed as he sat on a bulldozer. “We’re having a good time. We’re enjoying everything,” said Campbell.
Ariela Martin, a student at Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School, is an Independent contributing reporter.