The 34th Italian Heritage and Culture Month was a salute to Italian American women, honoring Dr. Maria Montessori an Internationally renowned educator and physician who lived from 1870-1952.
In 1976 the tradition was started with Italian Culture Week, and has grown to the month long celebration that it is today. This year Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. presented a Proclamation paying tribute to the Italian-American community and the culture, political, and scientific contributions Italian-Americans have made to our great borough, city, and country. BP Diaz proclaimed October 2010 as "Italian Heritage and Culture Month in The Bronx".
Judge John Barone of the Supreme Court of New York was the master of ceremonies, and the invocation was given by Megr. John A. Ruvo the former pastor of Our Lady Mt. Carmel Church. The American and Italian national anthems were played, and the invited guests were treated to a wonderful musical selection by
Soprano singer Maria Fraccola with Dina Pruzhansky accompanying her on the piano.
The event was held at the Bronx Zoo in what was formally known as the lion house, now vacated by the lions to their new outdoor home. One marveled at the fine marble columns and walls that were built in 1903 by Italian immigrants, and it was pointed out that The Bronx Botanical gardens and Fordham University were among other architectural wonders in the Bronx that were also built by Italians.
After a greeting by Francesco Maria Talo, Consul General of Italy in New York, and an Introduction by Mr. John Calvelli (Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society that runs the Bronx Zoo) BP Diaz brought up the honorees one by one.
Rosemary Deluca (the Wildlife Conservation Society Assistant Director of City and State Affairs), Donna M. Rapaccioli Ph.D. (Professor and Dean of Business Faculty at Fordham University). and Geri Scortino (Owner of Bronx Design Group) were the 2010 Honorees.
Unbeknown to BP Diaz his elementary school principal Carol Russo (and a first generation Italian American) presented Diaz with a special presentation. Russo was the principal of PS 31 where young Ruben Diaz Jr. attended. She had nothing but praise for him, and BP Diaz told the audience of an experience that he had as a fifth grade student that got him on television for the first time. Diaz added that he was in the gifted program at PS 31 then, and that he wanted to see more gifted programs in the Bronx like the one he took.
Also in attendance were City Councilman Jimmy Vacca and 82nd Assemblyman Mike Benedetto who could only stay a short time due to other commitments. The program ended with BP Diaz saying "We should always celebrate our diversity", and the delicious Italian food (from Auther Avenue) on hand was served.