SEASIDE HEIGHTS – Performers from Italy will once again be part of the annual Italian Heritage Festival and Ocean County Columbus Day.
The Italian Street Festival will kick off on October 7 at 4 p.m. on Grant Avenue and Ocean Terrace in the borough. The festival resumes at 10 a.m. on October 8 and October 9. There will be bands, exhibits, mummers and plenty of surprises.
The parade will be held at 1 p.m. on October 9 and will feature floats, bands and entertainment.
“The parade has become one of the most ethnic in the state and is the highlight of the three-day Italian Festival,” Parade Chairman Michael Blandina said.
This year marks 31 years of celebrating the county’s Italian heritage and culture.
“Many of your annual favorites will be returning and we will welcome new organizations and groups for the first time this year. The Parade Committee is especially proud to bring new attractions each year from Italy who are bringing a touch of the homeland to these events. This year we are fortunate to continue that tradition with Gruppo Sbandieratori e Musici and Gruppo Folkcloristico Miromagnum.”
While the COVID -19 pandemic prevented all the festivities from occurring in 2020, the parade and street festival returned last year. An entertainment group from Italy could not be secured however due to conditions of the pandemic at that time.
That isn’t the case this year. Gruppo Sbandieratori e Musici hails from Faenza, a city of just over 59,000 in the region of Emilia Romagna. The group was founded in 1959 to represent and revive live medieval battles. The group’s costumes are typical of the renaissance times. Their colorful flags with heraldic designs feature their district and honor to carry on the battlefield. This group is under the direction of Ivan Samori, their president, who has performed at numerous events in Italy, Europe and around the world.
Gruppo Folkcloristico Miromagnum are from a small village with just under 2,800 residents located in the Region of Calabria. The 22-member group is divided between singers, dancers and musicians and are experienced in folklore. Their performances are choreographed with their musical arrangements. They are under the direction of Marcello Perrone, their president, who has performed around the world.
Both groups will be entertaining attendees with their traditional flag waving, music and dances from their regions of Italy. They will arrive in America on October 5 and will be guests of the Ocean County Columbus Day Parade Committee.
This will mark the first time either group has performed in America.
“As we have for the past 22 years, we will once again be bringing in special talented groups of people from Italy to add an authentic spirit of Italian Heritage and culture, as well as a taste of the homeland to these events,” Blandina said.
During their visit the members of both groups will enjoy some day trips which are arranged by the Parade/Italian Heritage Festival Committee to Atlantic City, New York City and several local destinations of interest. Additional performances are scheduled around Ocean County and will include senior communities and area high schools before and after the parade and festival.
“We work hard each year to make the Columbus Day Parade and Italian Festival better than the year before,” he added. “This year’s parade and Italian Festival is on the way to become the best yet.” He credited the hard work and dedication of his committee that consists of Band Chair John Giavatto, Groups and Organization Co-Chairs Nora and Clarence Davis, Antique Car Chair Luigi Luongo and Float Chair John Celentano.
“There is still time to get involved with the Ocean County Columbus Day Parade and Italian Festival,” Blandina said. The Committee is seeking volunteers, groups and organizations and sponsors to participate. For more information you can contact him at 732-477-6507 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.