Columbus Day festivities today
By DREW WINCHESTER
Columbus Day is Monday, but the holiday gets an early start this weekend when the Columbus Day Parade and Food Fest returns Saturday with free entertainment and great food.
The parade has been around for decades, but the food fest was added three years ago and was a natural fit, said Linda Biondi.
Organized by Biondi and the Sons of Italy Charles J. Bonaparte Lodge 2504, the event features free music immediately following the parade.
Biondi said everything was falling into place Friday evening.
“The guys are setting up the stage, the bleachers are getting set up … all the preparations are getting ready,” she said. “We’re pretty much on track.”
The parade begins at 3 p.m., but the event runs until 10.
Along with the parade, another big part of the fest are the live performances, which will be going on throughout the afternoon and evening, according to Biondi.
Z-Bop featuring Vinnie B, the Calendar Girls, The Catman Mario Infante and Mario B, the Del Prados, the Lisa Meyer Dancers, the Tarantella Dancers, and many more, will be performing.
The featured act is internationally known recording artist Maurice Lo Monaco, who makes his home in Southwest Florida.
Both traditional Italian food, as well as other non-Italian fare will be available for purchase.
There will be rides and a rock wall for children, though Biondi said those attractions will cost money.
Biondi is expecting more than 40 vendors.
Biondi said it looks like the weather is going to be on their side on Saturday. Previous years temperatures soared, but things look to be pretty temperate this weekend.
“If the weather is anything like today, it’s going to be perfect,” she said.
CRA Public Relations Manager Helen Ramey said it is important to watch where you park Saturday if you go to the event.
Parking is available in multiple areas around downtown, but she urged driver to not park in areas where signs are posted saying parking is not allowed.
“Please park in the many public parking lots and avoid private property with posted tow away signs,” Ramey said. “Tow operators operate 24/7 and are very active during special events.”