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Sons of Italy® to Hold Columbus Day Parade in Denver

Press Contact: Diane Crespy, 202/547-8115 dcrespy@osia.org

For Immediate Release:

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2002 – It's official! Thanks to the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), Denver, Colorado, will have a Columbus Day parade this year despite the efforts of American Indian activists and other groups to derail the celebration.

The parade will be Saturday, October 12, under the sponsorship of a local Sons of Italy® lodge, "The New Generation," with support from the OSIA Grand Lodge of Colorado and OSIA's Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ).

The successful outcome was the result of hard work and good luck. Denver only gives out two parade permits per day, one for the morning and the other for the afternoon. Groups attempting to thwart plans for a Columbus Day parade petitioned for both permits. To be fair, the city decided to leave it up to chance by holding a lottery for the two permits. The Sons of Italy® New Generation Lodge was a winner and will hold its parade in the afternoon.

"That is just when we wanted it," says Pam Wright, daughter of Grand Lodge President Joe Ciancio, who, together with New Generation Lodge president George Vendegnia, spearheaded the Columbus Day parade campaign. They rallied support from the Denver Italian American community, local OSIA lodges, and the state and national OSIA leadership.

This year's Columbus Day parade will be only the second held in Denver since 1991. The first one, in 2000, was marred by demonstrators from the American Indian Movement and Hispanic groups who hurled insults at the marchers along with rocks, and urine-filled balloons.

Last year, the CSJ collected donations from OSIA grand lodges around the nation to help the New Generation Lodge hold an even bigger parade, which was cancelled due to September 11. "But we are back," says Wright, "and this year's parade promises to be the biggest one of them all."

Established in 1905, OSIA has more than 575,000 members and supporters and a network of 700 chapters coast to coast. It is the nation's largest and longest-established organization for people of Italian descent. OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 24 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group according to the U.S. Census Bureau. To learn more, visit OSIA on the Web at www.osia.org or contact us by e-mail at nationaloffice@osia.org.