On Monday, October 19, in the Legislative Chambers of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, in White Plains, New York, a marvelous ceremony celebrating the Italian Heritage and Culture Month took place among an abundant and enthusiastic public.
After the United States’ and Italian’s national Hymns, sung by the tenor Alfio Bonanno, and the Pledge of Allegiance, recited by everyone but led by Majority Leader Catherine Borgia, the Chairman Michael Kaplowitz gave a brief speech, welcoming the presents and thanking everyone, message that was reiterated and amplified by Carlo Sclafani, one of the organizers of the event and recipient of the first Proclamation, as co-president, with Vincent Zuccarelli, of The Westchester Coalition of Italian American Organization. The Proclamation was presented by Majority Leader Catherine Borgia and Minority Leader John Testa to the Coalition to ‘celebrate their work, which has contributed to enrich our character and strengthened the fabric of our culture.’ The Westchester Coalition of Italian American Organizations is an umbrella society of 20 Italian American associations in Westchester County, founded over 30 years ago by Anne Crisci Santena, Gastone Orefice, Mariella Clark and Carlo Sclafani. The Coalition’s objectives are to unify the Italian American organizations of Westchester while supporting and promoting their activities, to promote and foster the Italian language and culture in Westchester’s community and schools, to protect and defend Italian Americans against prejudice and discrimination, and to coordinate a calendar of events for the month of October, the Italian Heritage and Culture Month.
In giving this proclamation, the Westchester County Board of Legislators joined with the Office of the County Executive’s Proclamation declaring October 2015 Italian Heritage and Culture Month in celebration of ‘Italian Creativity: Celebrating 50 Years of Science and Technology; New York World’s Fair 1965 – Expo Milano 2015’.
The second Proclamation of the night was presented by Vice Chairman James Maisano to Casa Calabria Society of New Rochelle in celebration of their 80th Anniversary. The Proclamation was accepted by a group of members as substitutes to Domenico Procopio, President of the Casa Calabria Society, who could not be present for health reasons. Casa Calabria, a mutual aid society, was formed in 1935 to embody the best of Italian culture and customs with the traditions of the United States. The Calabria Society has been very active in civic affairs in New Rochelle, and her sons and daughters have served in local, county and state governments.
The third and last Proclamation of the evening was assigned by Legislator Lyndon D. Williams to Guardia Lombardi Association of Mt. Vernon in Celebration of their 77th Anniversary. The Decree was accepted by Nicholas D’Antona, President of that association. The Guardia Lombardi Association was founded in in 1938 in the City of Mount Vernon out of a desire to establish a haven for those immigrants from the town of Guardia dei Lombardi who had settled in the New York region to mutually support their struggles in establishing a new life in a new country. Today, some 35000 Guardiesi and their descendants live in Westchester County and regard the Society as a binding tie to their common heritage.
Remarks by Cav. Uff. Joseph Sciame, President of the Italian Heritage & Culture Committee of N.Y. completed the first part of the ceremony.
The second part of the evening consisted in the presentation of Certificates of Merit to students from various high schools of the County, assigned to them for their outstanding performance in Italian language studies (a list of the winners follows); their teachers were also present, making the whole ceremony a very touching picture. The tenor Alfio Bonanno ended the evening of celebrations with a marvelous rendition of Domenico Modugno’s ‘Volare’.