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On Sunday, October 12, the Italian American community of Los Angeles gathered together to celebrate the 552nd anniversary of Christopher Columbus’voyages to the New World, which led to the discovery of America.
The Casa Italiana adjacent to St. Peter’s Italian Catholic Church in Downtown LA hosted a solemn civic ceremony, presented by United Lodges of Southern California, Order Sons of Italy in America, in collaboration with the Federated Italo-Americans of Southern California.
After the morning Holy Mass, officiated by Rev. Louis Piran, the traditional program started with the opening remarks of Chairperson Vita Zaccaria, followed by the Honor Guard and Knights of Columbus led by Ron Manna, the Pledge of Allegiance performed by Federated’s Immediate Past President Rosemarie Biagetti Vanderhaar, and the invocation of St. Peter’s pastor. The Italian and U.S. national anthems were intoned by talented singer Maria Elena Infantino.
Introduced by emcee Andrew Pampuro, editor of OSIA publication Il Leone, keynote speaker and author Salvatore DiVita shared with the large audience a fascinating narration of Christopher Columbus’ adventurous story. Then, he left the stage to former California State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, who said to be honored to participate in the celebrations as a proud Italian American, and to Paolo Miliozzi, president of Fondazione Italia language school.
Guest speakers Gabe Domenici, president of United Lodges of Southern California, Ann Potenza, Federated Italo-Americans of Southern California, and Lynn Lawrence Murphy, State President, Grand Lodge of California, OSIA, were all presented a special gift on behalf of Los Angeles 15th District City Council Member Joe Buscaino, in recognition of their contribution to preserve the Italian heritage in the U.S. and in particular to commemorate Columbus Day.
The pleasant afternoon continued in a family-friendly atmosphere: lunch was served, catered by Portofino Ristorante of Federated’s Past President Nick D’Egidio, and music entertainment began, provided by Anthony Ciaramitaro.
Students from Benjamin Franklin Elementary Magnet School, Glendale Unified School District, danced tarantella wearing traditional costumes, and sung Italian evergreens Felicità, Viva la mamma, and Ciuri ciuri, directed by loving Yolanda Lella Wardeh. “The kids were wonderful! They represent the spirit of this festivity and are instrumental in perpetuating our Italian culture,” commented Federated’s President Ann Potenza.