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Food, fun at Columbus Day parade; Residents in Cape celebrate holiday

By Staff | Oct 14, 2008

There was an important addition to the Columbus Day celebrations in Cape Coral on Saturday — food.

The local Sons of Italy chapter traditionally conducts a parade to commemorate Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, but this year they added an Italian food festival with a variety of vendors and foods.

“We’ve never had an Italian festival in Cape Coral, and we thought it was time,” said Linda Biondi, vice president of the Charles J. Bonaparte Sons of Italy chapter in the Cape.

Vendors served pizza, oven-baked sandwiches, spaghetti and meatballs, Italian sausages, zeppoles, hot dogs, canolis and other items for about an hour before giving way to the parade.

Pete Simone, owner of Pete’s Steaks, said food is an essential part of Italian culture.

“If you look at our bellies you can tell how important the food is to us. The Italian food is the most important part of the day,” said Simone, who helped organize the vendors for the event.

The hour-long parade that followed the festival might have seemed like a bottomless piñata to onlookers, as parade participants tossed candy to the people lining Southeast 47th Terrace.

“It’s great, it seems to get bigger every year,” said Carmine Lombardi, a 12-year Cape resident.

The end of the parade was not the end of the celebration, however, as people gathered to see Tarantella dancers adorned in traditional Italian dress. The 12-member troupe is comprised of people from all over Southwest Florida, and it performed Italian folk dances after the parade.

One of the dancers, Rose Marie Frisa, said Columbus Day is a source of pride for Italians.

“He was Italian, he’s our hero. He discovered America,” Frisa said of Columbus.

Simone declared the festival a resounding success, and said people were waiting for this sort of Italian festival.

“Everybody’s having a good time, everybody’s loving it. The public has wanted it and that’s what we’re going to give them,” Simone said.