Derby Marks Columbus Day With Ceremony, Celebration of Italian Heritage

At the Valley Regional Lodge of the Sons of Italy, their Columbus Day celebration included nods to both Italian and American heritage.

At the annual celebration of Columbus Day, they raised the flags of both the United States and Italy and enjoyed some of the best culinary offerings of their Italian homeland. Here, this holiday is as much a celebration of their heritage as it is the man credited for “discovering” the Americas.

“It’s important in the sense of its heritage and what the Italian culture and heritage has brought to us,” said Lorenzo Durante, president of Valley Regional lodge of the Sons of Italy.

But there are some who say the decades-long tradition of honoring Columbus dishonors the people who were already living in the land he discovered.

This spring, West Hartford Public Schools decided to join cities and towns across the country who now acknowledge the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day.

NBC Connecticut talked to people at the Sons of Italy celebration about the shift. Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti, himself an Italian American, says the holiday is important to him, but he sees no issues with alternative celebrations.

“The world is changing every day. Whatever decision they want to make, the different towns, it’s up to them” he said.

At the Sons of Italy, there was a nod to the growing conversation about this alternate observance on this day with one of the speakers acknowledging that all Americans originate outside of the country, with the exception of those who were here when it was discovered to the wider world.

But those attending said celebrating Columbus Day is an annual tradition they never want to end.

“Columbus Day I think every year should be celebrated. He came to the new world and found the new world and I think it’s important that we keep the Italian heritage” Cassetti said.

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