Sunday, October 11, 2009

From 1909: Italian's Plans for Columbus Day Celebration

The following was published exactly 100 years ago today, in the October 11th Hartford Courant.

The Italians of Middletown will hold the center of the stage tomorrow when they will observe Columbus Day. The committee from the four Italian societies, the Young American-Italian Association, the Sons of Italy, the Mr. Carmen Society and the Garabaldi Society, has completed arrangements for the celebration. In the morning there will be a parade between 9 and 10 o'clock, led by the Saint Sebastian Band of this city. In the afternoon there will be another and a longer parade, culminating in a big mass meeting in town hall, at which both American and Italian orators will hold forth.

The evening's part of the celebration will begin at 7 o'clock with another parade, the third of the day. At 8:30 o'clock the Italians will reassemble at Armory Hall and hold a reception and dance until 2 o'clock in the morning. The committee has prepared handsome Columbus medals as souvenirs. The committee in charge of the celebration, which will be indulged in only by the Italian societies of the city, is composed of the following men: Peter A. Terragna, chairman; Angelo Carazzo, Antonio Basil, Leo B. Santangelo, Rosario Cannamela, Alfred Mennillo, Joseph Cannamela, and Antonio Cannata.

The September civil and criminal term of the superior court will bring its sessions to a close this week in this city. But two or three cases have been assigned for trial. The suit of Plesenka vs. Jamoskeivicz, in which the plaintiff sues for the support of her child, alleging the defendant to be the father, will probably be the first suit to come up. The case of Mrs. William W. Tuttle, who is suing for alimony, and a contested election case from Tylerville will likewise come up for trial. Judge A.S. Robinson expects to be in Willimantic by Friday.

The local Red Men will hold their outing this evening and board a special train to Hartford. The departure will be spectacular, a drum corps and fireworks marking the march to the station. It is expected that over a hundred members will take the train to Hartford, where a show will be seen.

The Twentieth Century Club will resume its season's meetings this evening at Hotel Chafee. Following dinner there will be a social session and an address by Representative Whiton of New London, who will speak on the public utilities bill of the recent Legislature.
Three parades in one day, dancing until 2:00 AM, what a celebration! It turns out that 1909 was the very first year that Columbus Day was a state holiday in Connecticut and in many other states including New York and California. In 1892 President Harrison had declared October 12, 1492 as the day America was discovered by Christopher Columbus. The Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago raised further pride and awareness of Columbus, and The Knights of Columbus, with strong support from Italians and other Catholics (chiefly Irish), had lobbied for the holiday. On May 5th, 1909, the Connecticut legislature passed the following bill:
The 12th day of October in each year hereafter shall be a legal holiday, and shall be known as Columbus Day. Whenever said day shall fall upon Sunday, the Monday next following said day shall be a legal holiday.
This year there are no parades in Middletown, and I can find no celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the establishment of the state holiday. Schools and City Hall will be closed, and stores will have sales.

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