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New York City Honors Sons of Italy®

Press Contact: Kylie Cafiero, (202) 547-2900 kcafiero@osia.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.—June 23, 2004 ­ The Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the nation's oldest and largest national organization for men and women of Italian heritage, has been recognized with a street sign in New York City's historic Little Italy district. On June 19, almost exactly 99 years since OSIA's founding, the street-naming celebration took place on Grand Street with over 500 guests in attendance.

Order Sons of Italy®® Way/Grand Street marks the site where the organization's founders first met at 203 Grand Street on June 22, 1905.

Hosting the ceremony was OSIA National President Joseph Sciame and New York State President Joseph J. Di Trapani.

"As we approach our centennial year it is an honor to host this extraordinary event in the place where it all began. Now we have a permanent legacy that we can share with all of New York," says Mr. Di Trapani.

New York City Councilman Allen Gershon, and the New York City Council's Italian American Caucus facilitated the street renaming, John Fratta, a member of the OSIA Lt. Joseph Petrosino Lodge of Little Italy, also was a prime mover. Coordinator for the day's events was Lucy Codella, OSIA National/NY state historian.

Representatives from New York State Governor George Pataki and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented proclamations declaring June 19 "Order Sons of Italy in America® Day." NY State Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli and Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi also extended greetings. Actor Tony LoBianco addressed the crowd.

"The sacrifices our parents and grandparents made to give us greater opportunities is a clear example of the purity of the love that grounds our families this day and for the years to come. The Order has been a part of that legacy all these many years," said Mr. LoBianco.

OSIA state presidents and members from Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia came to enjoy the day's events. The program included a luncheon at SPQR Restaurant on Mulberry Street, where two lifetime Achievements Awards were presented to Connecticut's Sebastian Polo and New York's Armand Vella. The luncheon was followed by a mass dedicated to OSIA and celebrated by OSIA's National Chaplain, Rev. Father Donald B. Licata, at Old St. Patrick's Cathedral. The day concluded with a concert, performed by tenor Peter Buchi.

In expressing his appreciation to those present for such "a grand start" to the anniversary celebrations, National President Sciame lit a symbolic Flame of Liberty to honor OSIA members, their immigrant parents and grandparents.

"I hereby declare this a year of celebration for all OSIA members, lodges and grand lodges, and enjoin them each to plan and coordinate appropriate events which reflect on the glorious history of our national organization," he said.

OSIA is the largest and oldest national organization for men and women of Italian heritage in the United States. It has more than 600,000 members and supporters and a network of more than 700 chapters coast to coast. OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 26 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.