Italy is coming to South Cape next weekend when the Columbus Day Parade and Italian Food Fest returns for a third year of free entertainment and great food.
Organized by the Sons of Italy Charles J. Bonaparte Lodge 2504, the parade has been around for decades, but the food festival became part of the celebration three years ago.
Linda Biondi said the idea of combining the parade and the food fest seemed like a natural fit.
Daily Breeze file photo
A young participant in last year’s Columbus Day Parade tosses a handful of candy to the crowd.
"It just seemed like a good way to put things together and promote Italian heritage and promote the downtown," Biondi said.
The parade runs east to west along Southeast 47th Terrace, and the food festival will be on Southeast 47th Terrace between Coronado Parkway and Southeast 15th Avenue.
The parade begins at 3 p.m., but the event runs until 10.
Who: Sons of Italy Charles J. Bonaparte Lodge 2504
What: Columbus Day Parade and Italian Food Fest
When: Saturday, Oct. 9, starting at 3 p.m.
Where: South Cape, along Southeast 47th Terrace
Along with the parade, another big part of the fest are the live performances, which will be going on all day long, according to Biondi.
Z-Bop featuring Vinnie B, the Calender Girls, The Catman Mario Infante and Mario B, the Del Prados, the Lisa Meyer Dancers, the Tarantella Dancers, and many more, will be performing.
The featured act is internationally known recording artist Maurice Lo Monaco, who makes his home in Southwest Florida.
CRA Public Relations Manager Helen Ramey praised Lo Monaco, who also performed at last year's parade and food fest.
"He put goosebumps on my goosebumps," Ramey said. "Everyone simply adored his singing ... I had to stop everything last year when he sang."
Biondi said that the free entertainment and parade are a great way for families to enjoy a day out without breaking the bank.
"It's a chance for us to give back to the city and give back the residents ... it doesn't cost a thing to come out and watch the entertainment," she said. "There will be entertainment all day long ... there will always be something on stage."
Biondi expects roughly 30 vendors for the event.
She said both traditional Italian food, as well as other non-italian fare, will be available for purchase.
There will be rides and a rock wall for the kids, though Biondi said those attractions will cost money.
As the event has grown over the last three years, Ramey said she was impressed at how smoothly everything is organized and run by the Sons of Italy.
Last year more than 15,000 people enjoyed the event, despite the heat, which reached as high as 97 degrees.
"This is a dedicated group and it's amazing how smooth things are going," Ramey said, adding, "It has been a privilege to work with the Sons Of Italy. Two years ago we started with just a concept and we have developed it into this great fun-filled family event."
The Columbus Day Parade and Italian Food Fest is Saturday, Oct 9. For more information, visit SouthCape.net, or call Biondi at 542-2254.