One of Cape Coral's largest parades and food festivals will be held today - the annual Columbus Day Parade & Italian Food Fest. The Sons of Italy Charles J. Bonaparte Lodge # 2504 of Cape Coral & Fort Myers will present the annual two-for-one fun event.
Officials are expecting a big crowd to enjoy all the activities and events.
"There have been anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 people in the past," said lodge president Steve Caramelli. "It's a fun day for Cape Coral. Everybody is Italian that day."
The parade will start at 3 p.m. at Southeast 15th Ave. and travel west on Southeast 47th Terrace to Southeast 10th Place, "where Downtown Cape Coral will be transformed into a street festival," said officials.
"We start the music at 3 p.m. and the parade starts at 3, so usually people come early. The parade empties right into the festival," Caramelli said.
There are 60 entries in the parade this year.
Who: Sons of Italy, Charles J. Bonaparte Lodge #2504
What: Columbus Day Parade &
Italian Food Fest
Oct. 13, 3 to 10 p.m. Parade starts at 3.
Where: Downtown Cape Coral, Southeast 47th Terrace
Stage Time Lineup For Fest
3 p.m. Z-Bop Unlimited Opening Remarks
3:10 p.m. Karate Demonstration
3:30 p.m. Lisa Meyer Dancers
3:50 p.m. Announcements & Mayor Sullivan Proclamation
4 p.m. The Calendar Girls
4 p.m. Announcements
4:35 p.m. Sase & Pearl
5 p.m. Pizza Eating Contest
5:30 p.m. Cody Vagle
6 p.m. Announcements
6:10 p.m. Spaghetti Eating Contest
6:30 p.m. Announcements & Z-Bop
6:45 p.m. Richie C
7:15 p.m. The Del Prados
7:45 p.m. Ric Mango
9 p.m. Z-Bop
9:15 p.m. Raffle Drawing
A crowd favorite for many will be Edward Kocik. "Buck Kocik is the original fire chief of Cape Coral, the first fire chief from 50 years ago. He's a great guy, 84 years old. He's have a new uniform and is all ready to go."
Also look for some great music, from headliner Ric Mango, formerly from Jay and the Americans, and some popular local signing and dancing acts.
"We also have a upcoming kid named Cody Vagel, he's 15 and he's phenomenal."
Other entertainers include The Del Prados, Sase & Pearl, Lisa Meyer Dancers and The Calendar Girls.
The MC is Vinnie B, and the DJ for the event Z-Bop.
"We have rides for the kids, a big ride park, and all free entertainment going on all day."
And of course, there will be the food.
"The food is my favorite part of the festival," said Caramelli. "There will close to 40 vendors, with most of them here every year. There will be lots of good food, Italian and American, too, but mainly Italian."
Look for everything from sausage and pepper to veal scallopini and linguini with clam sauce, to pizza and Italian pastries.
And speaking of pizza, there will be both a spaghetti and pizza eating contest, said event chairman Camille Marino.
"There will be prize rewards for who eats the most."
"I donate the pizzas for the pizza eating contest," said Donanthony Pizza owner Anthony Scazullo.
He is a member of the Sons of Italy and has been involved since the lodge first began sponsoring the festival.
"We've been holding the pizza-eating contest since the first festival and it has become a staple of the day and something people look forward to. It's a lot of fun. Our reigning champion from last year is Don Ferraro, who will be trying to hold on to his record and belt."
"It's a great time for all," he added.
And look for the spaghetti eating contest to get downright messy, officials said.
This year there is a lot of enthusiasm for the event within and outside of the lodge, from members, the community and groups and businesses.
"The response has been unbelievable," Marino said. "The Corvette Club, the Mustang Club, the Hot Chili Rods will all be here in force, and Fiat is one of our sponsors. We are also raffling off a diamond necklace from John Michael's Fine Jewelry, with a value of $2,200. Second prize is a stay at the Hampton Inn and we also have a stay at the Holiday Inn."
Tickets for the raffle are $5.
"Everyone is so excited about that (all the response) and that's what's important. We've put our heart and soul into this."
Besides many members of the lodge volunteering, there is a core group of about 25 who have been working on the Fest for a significant amount of time. "As soon as the festival ends we start up all over again."
She talked more about the parade.
"The parade is huge this year, a great time for Cape Coral. We have new participants such as Dixie Roadhouse and we have the Sons of Italy Marching Unit from our organization, our special Grand Marshall former chief Kocik, the Cape Coral Fire Department and their color guard, the Cape Coral Police, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott and more."
"The Order Sons of Italy in America is the largest and longest-established Italian-American organization in the country," said Linda Messina Holda, local lodge publicity chair.
This is a big fund raiser for them.
"The Charles J. Bonaparte Lodge donates to many charities including Alzheimer's, Cooley's Anemia, and the American Cancer Society. A college scholarship is also awarded each spring, to a deserving high school graduate of Italian descent."
You can visit their website for more details at sonsofitalycapecoral.ning.com.