The nation’s “oldest continuously running Italian heritage parade” returns October 10, the first major parade to float the idea since COVID hit.
We have not had a proper, official parade in San Francisco since the pandemic arrived in early 2020. The Chinese New Year Parade was held in February 2020, but drew nowhere near the tourism of a normal year. Since then, the closest thing to a parade has been a few informal marches on Pride weekend, but without floats and bands and such.
But one parade has received the city’s blessing, as the Chronicle reports the Italian Heritage Parade is back on for Sunday, October 10.
"We’re happy to be back in person,” the parade organization’s president Bill Mastrangelo told the Chronicle. “With the guidance of the city and other agencies we feel we can celebrate our Italian heritage safely in North Beach again. This event covers about a mile and a half. We have the ability to have the crowd spread out and distance."
Billed as “the oldest continuously running Italian heritage parade and festival in the United States” (and dating back to 1868!), this is an exceptionally old-school traditional parade. You’ve got your floats, marching bands, and “royal courts” of budding teen queens with sashes and crowns. The Grand Marshal this year is Bimbo’s 365 owner Graziano Cerchiai, as that club turns 90 this year.
The parade kicks off at 12:30 p.m. that Sunday. The parade route originates at Jefferson and Stockton streets in the Wharf, then moves west and southeast to end in North Beach at Washington Square.
This is, of course, the former Columbus Day Parade, though they dropped that name in 1994. They retain the references to “Queen Isabella and her royal court,” named for Isabella I of Castile who financed Columbus’ voyage. Though ironically, she was Spanish, not Italian.
Image: The Parade Guys via Facebook