Monday, October 11th, was Columbus Day and we decided that there was no better place to be than Little Italy on Mayfield Road where the 2021 Columbus Day parade would take place at noon.
Accordingly, to secure a parking spot, we arrived an hour early which gave us time to visit the new Italian American Heritage Museum which is sponsored by The Italian Sons and Daughters of America and partnered with the Western Reserve Historical Society.
Although the entire museum was wonderful, we especially liked the section that was devoted to upholding the contribution made by Italian American stone carvers that can be witnessed in such locales as the Lake View Cemetery and the Hope Memorial Bridge.
We have attended the parade in other years on behalf of Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC but this time, for the first time, we decided to walk down the line of participants waiting for their cues to start marching/driving.
Thus, we got to talk to some people from the North Italian Club which is oldest Italian Club in Cleveland having been founded in 1926. To be sure, the Club has experienced some hard times but in recent years its body has increased, and the new members are committed to sharing and preserving their culture.
What’s more, we got to meet an Italian Mastiff named “Steel” who would be taking part in a frolic with the Krazy Kops. Steel’s owner/handler assured us that the formidable looking dog was, in fact, a gentle giant and that his breed almost became extinct in the 1990’s.
For sure, we also got to say “hello” to several of our friends like Judge Joan Synenberg, of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, who was the parade’s Grand Marshal.
Plus, we got to meet Ms. Francesca Mastrandrea who was watching the parade along with her relatives. We were told that Francesca’s grandparents immigrated to the United States from Italy in the 1880’s and a small nearby street was initially named after her family.
Now, at age 92, Francesca is lovingly considered a “matriarch” by her loved ones and has resided in Little Italy her entire life.