From the desk of arts writer Phyllis A.S. Boros
Bridgeport’s Columbus Day weekend celebration, Oct. 8-10, will include three major events: Two concerts by the 2d Marine Division Band, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and a parade.
Here’s the info, as supplied by the Council of Italian American Societies of Greater Bridgeport Inc., which is sponsoring all three events.
To mark the annual Columbus Weekend Celebration in Bridgeport, the 2d Marine Division Band, Camp Lejeune, N.C., will perform two free concerts on Friday, Oct. 8 and Saturday, Oct. 9, at the Klein Memorial Auditorium, 910 Fairfield Ave. in Bridgeport. Each concert will begin at 7 p.m.; doors will open at 6.
Admission is free, but tickets are required. They will be available, beginning Monday, Sept. 27, at Lupe’s Drug Store, 3129 Main Street, Bridgeport. Ticket Information: (203) 374-0600. All concert-goers are asked to bring non-perishable food donations to the Klein. The collected items will be distributed by the Office of Veteran Affairs for the City of Bridgeport to those veterans in need.
The concerts will feature patriotic and big band favorites, familiar marches, traditional classics, film music, jazz, country and popular contemporary music, said Chris Caruso, chairperson of the concerts, which will be dedicated to the memory of Vincent Vizzo, World War II veteran and longtime community activist and CIAS member.
At this year’s concerts, in an effort to ”commemorate the bravery and selfless commitment to their fellow human beings, a special musical selection will be performed in honor of fallen Bridgeport firefighters Lt. Steven Velasquez and Michel Baik who died in the line of duty on July 24, 2010,” Caruso said.
“It is a great honor and delight to have the 2d Marine Division Band in the City of Bridgeport once again. We are truly fortunate,” Caruso said. “They are true musical professionals and they represent themselves and our country with distinction.”
Caruso explained that the band, “The Division’s Own,” was formed from elements of the 2d, 6d and 8d Marine Regiment Bands. Gathering for rest and relaxation, they came together for the first time in Wellington, New Zealand during World War II. Members of the band fought side by side with fellow marines and sailors on Tarawa, Tinian, Wake Island, Guadalcanal and Saipan.
During conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, members of the band did not serve in combat as a unit. However, they were frequently called upon as litter bearers and military police. In 1991 the band was deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Desert Shield/Desert Storm. In 2005 the band served as a security platoon in Camp Blue Diamond, Ramadi, Iraq and in 2007 served as a security platoon in Al Asad and Camp Faliujah in support of Iraqi Freedom. The band is the only musical unit at Camp Lejeune; it provides musical support for the five major commands and 30,000 Marines for whom Camp Lejeune is home, he said.
The band also performs in numerous parades, concerts and ceremonies throughout eastern North Carolina and the eastern United States. Known for their marching and musical excellence, the members are proud of their role as
“Musical Ambassadors” for the Corps, he said. Since September 2010 the Band has been under the direction of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Forest Brown. Master Sergeant Mark D. Munger serves as the Band Master, Gunnery Sergeant David J. Wilson serves as the Drum Major, Staff Sergeant Joshua J. Campbell is the Enlisted Conductor, Small Ensemble Leader is Staff Sergeant Jacob O. Johnson and the Instrument Repair Technician is Michael R. Pratt.
“The Band loves coming to Bridgeport. I’ve been told the warmth and support of its citizens makes this visit a home away from home,” said Chief Warrant Officer Brown who will be directing the Band in Bridgeport for the first time this year.
BRIDGEPORT COLUMBUS DAY UNITY PARADE
The Columbus Day Unity Parade, which takes place rain or shine, will kick off at 1 p.m. from the corner of Wayne Street and Jewett Avenue. The parade will head south to Madison Avenue, and proceed to Beers Street, where it will end at the entrance to the parking lot of Central High School. This year’s theme is ”Diverse Cultures Strengthen Freedom.” Featured will be the 2d Marine Division Band, local high school bands, the Park City Pride Senior Drum & Bugle Corps, the Fairfield Gaelic Pipe Band fife and drum corps, various ethnic dance teams, clowns from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, classic cars, floats, the Pyramid Shriners mini cycles, area elected officials and representatives from area police and fire departments.
This year’s parade will be dedicated to Bridgeport firefighters Lt. Steven Velasquez and Michel Baik, who died in the line of duty on July 24.
Russ and Joan Palaia are parade chairpersons.