The beauty of our heritage was on full display as the Crystal Gardens at Navy Pier was transformed into our beloved Italy on Feb. 17. Through the efforts of the Institute of Italian Culture and the JCCIA, la bell’Italia was well represented at Neighborhoods of the World, which will take place each Sunday through April 7 and feature a different ethnic group each week.
The JCCIA answered the call to lead the way and organize the first Sunday in the series, without hesitation motivating all to participate in this display of our traditions and culture.
Silvio Marchetti did an outstanding job of procuring Canzoniere Grecanico, a folkloristic group a family group that originated in 1975 in Salento, Italy. The grandson of the founder is now the leader for the troupe, which performs southern Italy’s Pizzica style of music and dance.
Thousands of people filed through the Crystal Gardens that day and were entertained not only by the musicians but also by the cultural displays provided by the Joint Civic Committee. A huge attraction was our collection of authentic costume pictures from each region of Italy.
The 6-foot-tall display boards were secured to form a backdrop for tables showcasing Marie Palello’s 60-year-old Italian doll collection, the Fra Noi magazine, and DVDs of the Italian American Veterans Museum’s award-winning “5,000 Miles From Home,” to name just a few items.
The recipe books from our annual cookie walks are always a big seller, and Dominic Candeloro joined us with books from the Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia. The Shrine of Our Lady of Mt Carmel always has a beautiful and widely viewed display of religious items. This year Christine Cerami, unveiled ruby rosary beads that we all wished were in our budgets. On the lighter side, we had T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and flags for sale.
Our sales chairperson was Laverne Marcheschi along with the ever-reliable team of volunteers from the West Suburban Women’s Division. What an outstanding job of organizing the merchandise they all did.
An event like this doesn’t just happen. It takes many JCCIA members giving of their time away from their families to ensure the success of this inaugural event. Our on-site coordinator as always was Dean Dalaly, who is the most dependable, reliable man to come forward time after time for our community.
The new administration of the Young Professionals Division also really came through. Led by their president, Bobby Capuani, their support was needed and very much appreciated.
My sincerest thanks to all the volunteers, including Marie Palello, Dean Dalaly, Laverne Marcheschi, Christine Cerami, Bobby Capuani, Theresa Paterno, Florence Wire, Bill Wire, Mary De Santo, Rose Balinger, Anna Bohringer, Nancy Cometa, Barb Mirante, Linda Basile, Debbie Basile, Dominic Candeloro, Gina Gigante, Valerie Gigante, Dario Aldaco, Teri Calanora, Jason Seldomridge, Rick Lavere and Pete Mare.