As an Italian American, I know October is not just the season for Halloween and candy; its also the celebration of Italian culture.

On Monday, October 8th, Italians get ready for one of Manhattan’s MOST POPULAR parades: the Columbus Day Parade. For Italians, Columbus is not just a person written about in a text book. He is an example of courage and intelligence. About 35,000 march in the parade, while 100,000 watch in the stands. Columbus is a symbol of Italian pride. As someone who participates in the parade, I have had the honor of meeting many influential people such as Guy Chiarello (President of First Data) and Aldo Verrelli (owner/founder of A.Verrelli & Associates). These influential Italian-Americans express that their success is due to hard work and dedication, which was something they owe to their Italian American heritage and pride.

To add, during October, Italians like to celebrate the contribution that Italians gave through history. Italians have influenced American culture. Whether it was through sports, arts, politics, and entertainment (just to name a few), Italians dominated through. For example, the art of ballet was created by Italians and then later used by the French. In addition, the NFLs most prestigious award is in honor of the Italian American football player named Vince Lombardi. The Lombardi trophy is given at the Super Bowl. Everyone’s favorite cartoon character, Donald Duck, was created by an Italian cartoonist named Tony Anselmo! To add, several Italians contributed to the American cause during the Revolutionary War, including, Pascal DeAngelis who, in 1776, at age 13 became one of the first native Italians to bear arms against the British. He fought for the Americans for the remainder of the Revolutionary War.

So, I encourage anyone of Italian descent to learn more about their Italian heritage in honor of Italian history month. Italians had a lot to offer to America. To show our respect for those Italians that came before us, lets try to dedicate some time to learn about Italian contributions around the world.