by Jo Ann Serpico
“Exciting” doesn’t begin to describe the 2013 Columbus Day Queen Pageant that took place on July 21. Enthusiasm radiated from the family members, friends and community leaders who attended, and the young women were perfect examples of confidence, courage and leadership.”
Dina Bair, our master of ceremonies, is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who is currently the anchor for WGN Midday News and the most recent recipient of the JCCIA Dante Award and JCCIA Women’s Division Impresa Award. Dina was also the Columbus Day Queen in 1990. Her energy was so inspiring. She was superb!
We are fortunate to have Tony Durpetti as this year’s Columbus Day Parade Chairman. He and his wife Marian were delighted to observe this great JCCIA tradition of selecting the queen. This great restaurateur (Gene & Georgetti’s Steak House) crowned the winner.
The opening production number choreographed by Marilyn Fredericks and performed by our contestants was upbeat and enjoyable. The contestants were dressed in silver sequined dresses provided by JCCIA. The costumes worn for the opening number are selected each year by the committee, and always complement the occasion.
We had five distinguished judges.
Lissa Druss Christman is a senior communications consultant with Serafin & Associates.
Christina Cotuno was Queen of the Columbus Day Parade in 2008. She is currently working for Tillman Carlson, a boutique executive recruiting firm.
Iliana Incandela was Queen of the Columbus Day Parade in 2010. She is a singer-songwriter who won second place on the CW’s music competition show, “The Next.”
Natalie Loss was Queen of the Columbus Day Parade in 2009. She is a three-time representative of the Miss Italia Court. In 2010, she became the youngest female manager in the history of the Gibson’s Restaurant Group.
Jessica Perez is a communications specialist for the Community Affairs and Marketing Division in the Office of Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
Our judges were extremely attentive as the impressive bevy of beauties paraded down the runway in their evening gowns, identified only by the number on the nosegay on their right hand.
The group was then reduced to five semi-finalists. Prior to naming the five, chairmen Jim Glimco and Mauro Gloriso announced that, this year, there would be 12 girls in the court. Cheers came from the nearly 200 in attendance. The five semi-finalists each drew a question from a specially decorated glass bowl. Each answered their question and, based on the interview, the five semi-finalist were whittled to three.
The three finalists were asked the same question with the other two finalist out of earshot. The judges then turned their results over to the accountants to tally the votes. Our accountant this year were John and Lucia Loizzo. John is a senior vice president and business analyst for J.P. Morgan Chase and his wife, Lucia, is the account at Itasca Country Club.
Our 2012 Columbus Day Queen, Olivia Smaniotto, took her last walk down the runway while her voiceover shared how appreciative she was to serve as queen.
After all was said and done, Victoria Martello was crowned our 2013 Columbus Day Queen, Hailing from Oak Lawn, Victoria is 20 years old and is earning a bachelor of science degree in psychology at Saint Xavier University. She is the founder and president of the Italian American Society at SXU and was elected the Student Government Executive President of the University Student Body. Victoria is preparing to spend her senior year in Italy. She plans to attend graduate school to earn a master’s degree in psychology and social work a goal of becoming a child life specialist.
Also on the float for Columbus Day Parade is the Queen’s Court: Jessica Emilia Ciraldo, Giana Cesario, Nichelle Cesario, Rebecca Livia Coglianese, Maria Angela DiPrizio, Tonia Fricano, Norina Infusino, Jackie Pellegrino Miles, Deidre Moreschi, Angela Scavo Reynolds, Maria Lisa Iannotti Stuckel and Jessica Nichole Zarcone.
They will also be attending various Italian functions throughout the year. Their first public appearance was an invitation from the Italian American Executive of Transportation to the White Sox game on July 23, and they wore their beautiful sashes representing the Italian community.
Congratulations to all!