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Brocato’s of New Orleans Honors St. Joseph’s Day

Brocato’s on Carrolton Ave. is open to walk up traffic during the Corona Virus distancing.

On Monday March 16th Arthur Brocato and staff came in on their normally closed day to build their annual St. Joseph’s Altar. Just as they were finishing, the city announced restaurants and bars would be closed to inside dining.

Arthur made a decision to move the altar from the back of the gelato parlor to the front window of the store.

A customer places and order at the front of Brocato’s Italian Pastry store. The St. Joseph’s Altar is to the right.
The three tiers of the altar represent the Holy Trinity.
Brocato’s specialties adorn the altar.
Brocato’s is always a place of smiles.

The Quest for Markers to Honor Sicilian Contributions to New Orleans

Conceptual design of proposed marker. The marker was approved by the state of Louisiana but has sat in storage since September 2019 as New Orleans Parks and Parkways will not approve installation. Behind the marker is the former site of the Taromina pasta factory, which the marker discusses.

The Quest to erect Historic Markers to the Sicilian Migration to New Orleans on Contributions to Safety, Culture, and Economic Development started in 2017.

Sicilians began arriving in New Orleans in the 1820s on the lemon boats and worked in French Market and the docks of New Orleans. By 1860, approximately 1,200 Sicilians lived in New Orleans. Italy did not become a country until 1861.

Starting in the 1880s, over 60,000 Sicilians were brought into Louisiana via New Orleans to work on plantations. Within three years, many had oved to New Orleans and opened grocery stores, which they lived above. Estimates are over 50% of grocery stores in Louisiana were owned by Sicilians by 1910.

In 1897, the Dingley Tariff was passed on imported pasta. As a result eleven pasta factories opened in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The Taromina Pasta Factory was across the street from the proposed marker site.

The Taormina Bros Pasta Factory is now Muriel’s Restaurant. Taormina became Progressive Foods. See full story following this article.

The marker application process started in February of 2019 by attending a class by the state of Louisiana.

In May of 2019 two submissions are made to the State of Louisiana Dept. of Tourism for Historic Markers.

In June of 2019 after approval by the Dept of Tourism, the submissions are sent to LSU History Dept.

In July 2019 after approval by the LSU History Dept., the submissions are sent to a State Commission for Approval.

September 2019, after approval by the state, Charles Marsala asked the Jazz Museum for approval on the Sicilian Jazz Marker. The Museum, which is managed by the state, granted approval and erected the marker.

The first Sicilian Historic marker went on a site controlled by the State of Louisiana and was approved immediately. The markers are approved for display on any state highway. Approval in a city park or road, requires that city’s additional approval.

September 2019, Marsala asked the New Orleans City Council and New Orleans Parks and Parkways for approval on a marker regarding the eleven pasta factories that opened in the French Quarter after the Dingley Tariff of 1897 and on the efforts of the Italian Brigade to act as First Responders and police for a peaceful transition in April 1862 of New Orleans back to the Union. During the last week of April 1862, Algiers was burned and looted. New Orleans was policed and protected.   The marker also mentions the role of Sicilians in the naming of the “Fighting Tigers” as the LSU Mascot.

Conceptual design of the proposed marker which has text on both sides. The marker has sat in storage since December 2019 after being approved by the state, waiting on direction by the City of New Orleans.

In September 2019, Marsala requested the item be put on the Council’s Quality of Life Committee and was denied. He then opted to speak during public comments to items not on the agenda.  Here is the link to his presentation and the response by Council Member Kristen Palmer.

Marsala, who is President of the American-Italian Federation of the Southeast, suggested three locations for the marker:  1. In Jackson Square near the former site of the Taromina Pasta Factory.  2. On Decatur Street near other Historic Markers.  & 3. Near the Marker to the Transatlantic slave Trade.

Option three is to place the Sicilian Contribution Marker near the Transatlantic Slave Trade Marker as 60,000 Sicilians arrived by boat near this spot on the Mississippi.
Council Member Palmer stated she was on the Committee the erect six markers to the Transatlantic Slave Trade in 2018 for the New Orleans Tri-Centennial in the French Quarter. No markers to the Sicilian contribution were included or erected by that committee.
Located in the New Orleans City Duncan Plaza Park are newly erected signs to the Pythian Temple, which was across the street from Duncan Plaza. The Sicilian Contribution Marker has the same concept.
Lafayette Square in New Orleans honors the Marquis de Lafayette.

City Council Member Kristin Palmer, who represents the French Quarter, suggested during the Quality of Life Committee meeting that a commission of several organizations be formed to study historic markers before the Sicilian Markers could be erected even though for years she has been working on the committee that was erecting the Transatlantic Slave Trade Markers without oversight. 

Palmer stated her office would organize the committee. Following the meeting, she emailed that she spoke in error and the Council has no jurisdiction over markers. Her staff also apologized for not responding for three weeks to Marsala’s email, until the hour after he spoke at the council meeting.  

Minutes after Charles Marsala spoke at the Quality of Life Committee Meeting in October, which was two weeks after asking Council Member Palmer for direction on the markers, she emailed him to apologize for stating incorrectly at the earlier meeting that she had responded the one day earlier. She also apologized for giving inaccurate advise during the meeting.

New Orleans Parks & Parkways later responded that Jackson Square is not designed to honor military, even though there is a statue to Major General Andrew Jackson and annual ceremonies in honor of all those that fought in the battle of New Orleans. Neither the council member Palmer nor the Director of New Orleans Parks & Parkways would meet with Marsala to resolve the issue.

The Society of 1812 hosts a memorial annually on the first Saturday in January for the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. The Sicilian Community of New Orleans wishes to have a similiar ceremony annually in Jackson Square to honor the Italian Brigade of April 25th-May 1st 1862 that policed the city and allowed for a peaceful transition back to the Union.
The 2020 annual ceremony by the Daughters of the War of 1812 ceremony at Jackson Square honoring all who fought in the Battle of New Orleans is held on January 8th, the actual day of the battle. .
Ann MacDonald emailed that Jackson Square does not honor any veterans or ethnic groups. However that does not seem to be a written ordinance for the City of New Orleans. Numerous other parks in New Orleans honor veterans and groups. Example Lafayette Square honors the French and Congo Square honors African Americans.
Jackson Square has many plaques and markers honoring the French and Spanish.
Plaque on the Jackson Square Fence.
Markers on four side of Jackson Square describe the use of the Square to honor military.

Plans are to donor additional markers for Salvatore Catalano, who piloted Stephen Decatur’s ship and for Mother Cabrini, who has a park named for her. Mother Cabrini arrived in New Orleans in 1892 to open a orphanage for victims of the Yellow Fever pandemics.

Thomas Jefferson offered US Citizenship to Catalano, after the 1804 Barbary Coast War. Catalano piloted Stephen Decatur’s ship. Thus a marker explaining the Barbary Coast War, why a street was named after Stephen Decatur, and Catalano contribution would be donated.
There is no signs at Cabrini Park in the lower French Quarter. It has been requested that New Orleans Parks and Parkways allow a marker to be donated at the park for Mother Cabrini. In 1892, Mother Cabrini opened an orphanage in the French Quarter for children who were orphans due to Yellow Fever. In 1904, the orphanage moved to Esplanade Ave and remained open until 1959.

In late 2019, Mayor Cantrell announced she wanted to allocate approximately $3 million per year to non-profits that promote the Culture of New Orleans as that benefits New Orleans tourism.

In March 2020, Marsala spoke at the Government Affairs Committee meeting as it reviewed the spending of the $3 million per year to promote Cultural Tourism in New Orleans. He asked for a seat at the table of the Cultural Tourism Commission for Italians /Sicilians.

The Sicilian quest to obtain city approval to recognize the contributions of Sicilians to the safety, culture, and economic development of New Orlerans is to erect 4-8 markers in the area of the French Quarter that was once known as “Little Palermo” or “The Spaghetti District.”

The State of Louisiana has a posted, efficient, and formal process to review and approve markers. An applicant has to provide validation of all text in the marker. The next needed step is a equal, fair, and clear process at the City of New Orleans.

Dedication of the Music Marker at the State operated Jazz Museum

The Story of the Taormina Pasta Factory becoming Progressive Foods

Below is an excerpt from “That’s Amore: Italian Food in America,” the first chapter of The World on a Plate.

The burgeoning Italian community [in late 19th century New Orleans] clamored for tomato paste, an­chovies, cheeses, and other products that only their homeland could supply.  Sicilian importers like Giuseppe Uddo, the founder of Pro­gresso Foods, responded to this craving. The eldest of six children, Giuseppe grew up in Salemi, a small Sicilian village twenty-five miles from the Mediterranean. After the third grade, he quit school to help support his family. The nine-year-old drove a horse-drawn cart selling olives and cheeses in Salemi and nearby towns. Giuseppe was a vendi­tor, a traditional Sicilian vocation.

On one of his trips, the peddler met Giuseppe Taormina, a success­ful food merchant, who had many relatives in New Orleans. Taormina took to the young salesman and introduced him to his daughter, Eleanora. The two married and decided to try their luck in New Or­leans. Giuseppe and Eleanora, both then twenty-four, sailed from Palermo and landed at the Canal Street docks in 1907.

Since the food trade was “all he knew,” his son Frank said, Giuseppe went to work for his brother-in-law, Francesco Taormina, who had an import business. He lost the job when Francesco closed down to re­turn to Italy to fight in the army.  Eleanora’s cousins, also food mer­chants, hired Giuseppe to work in their warehouse.

The Uddos lived in a crowded tenement in the French Quarter, which was dubbed Piccola Palermo (Little Palermo). They shared a toi­let with the other dwellers. Laundry hung in the outside courtyard.

Giuseppe was stranded on Christmas Eve of 1909 when his em­ployers went bankrupt. He now had two young children to support and wondered what he would tell his wife. On his way home through the French Quarter, he met a Mr. Cusimano, who owned a macaroni factory in the district. Cusimano asked the disconsolate Sicilian what was worrying him. After hearing Uddo’s tale of woe, he offered him goods to start his own business and promised him credit to buy more.

Giuseppe was ready to strike out on his own.  He had a supply of olives, cheeses, and tomato paste but no way of transporting them to sell. He went back to Eleanora’s cousins and implored them: “If you’re going to go bankrupt, give me your horse.” They agreed and Giuseppe borrowed the money to buy Sal. A godsend, “the horse knew where to go,” Frank said. Since his father adamantly refused to learn English, he depended on the horse to take him on the sales routes to Italian customers. According to Frank, this was the beginning of Progresso: “The horse started the business.”

Giuseppe left home about 3 A.M. to travel to Kenner, Harahan, and other Italian truck-farming communities outside New Orleans. “The roads were terrible and the mosquitoes were so big, you could put sad­dles on them,” his son, Salvadore, told the New Orleans Times­-Picayune. After three days on the road, the peddler returned home and prepared his wares for another trip. He and his wife spiffed up and re­labeled the cans of tomatoes they had gotten from Cusimano.

As business grew, Uddo expanded his venture. He replaced Sal and bought trucks. He purchased a small warehouse in the French Quarter on Decatur Street, installing his family upstairs to live and running his peddling operation below. He also opened a grocery on the ground floor and placed his brother, Gaetano, recently arrived from Sicily, in charge.

Just before World War I, his father, Frank remembered, decided to “gamble everything.” Giuseppe took out a loan and bought three thousand cases of tomato paste. When an embargo closed Italian ports, Uddo’s sales boomed, and he used his profits to bring the rest of his family to New Orleans. His parents, Salvadore and Rose, and his sisters, Tomasa and Francesca, joined him. The patriarch made all his family members stockholders. Giuseppe “did not believe in paying salaries,” Frank said.

After the war, Uddo bought a factory in Riverdale, California, owned by the Vaccaros, the New Orleans fruit magnates, which man­ufactured tomato paste. He sent his brother Gaetano out to run it. The plant was the first in the United States to make the product, which had previously been available only from Italy. The war had taught Uddo that it was too dangerous for his company to rely exclu­sively on imports.

Giuseppe was always dreaming up new enterprises. He started New Orleans’s first movie theater, built a cigar-rolling factory, and opened a ship chandler’s business in Galveston, Mississippi. But he was “never a good follow-up man,” Frank discovered. Once he began making can­dles in the back of his warehouse, but they all melted in the city’s tor­rid heat.

The California cannery was turning out more tomato products than the company could sell in Louisiana. Uddo wanted to tap new mar­kets, especially in the rapidly growing Italian enclaves in the North­east. “There are more people in New York than there are in Rome,” he told Frank.

Giuseppe joined forces with the Taorminas, the members of an­other Sicilian trading clan, who had begun a struggling import busi­ness in New York City. Frank G. and Vincent Taormina, distant cousins of Eleanora Uddo, and their cousins, Frank R. and Eugene, were floundering when Giuseppe rescued them. Giuseppe advanced the Taormina “boys,” as he liked to call them, vital capital and brought his family to New York in 1930 to help out the firm. Three years later, Frank G. Taormina married Giuseppe’s daughter, Rose Marie. As Frank Uddo tells it, this alliance “cemented things” in the Uddo-Taormina company, the newly merged enterprise.

Francesco Taormina, Eleanora’s brother, sent olives, pomidori pelati (peeled Italian plum tomatoes), and other staples from Sicily to their Brooklyn headquarters. The California cannery sent carloads of tomato paste to New York for distribution. Olive oil was shipped from Tunisia, where Giuseppe’s cousin owned a factory.

Sicilian imports poured into Brooklyn. The business sold sardines, anchovies, and incanestrato, a cheese molded in a wicker basket (cane­stro), to ethnic groceries. It roasted peppers and marketed salted chickpeas (ceci), which Italians snacked on during feast days and other celebrations. Caponata was a signature item. The Sicilian appetizer, a traditional summer dish, combined eggplant, tomatoes, onions, and celery in a sweet-and-sour blend made piquant with capers, olives, and anchovies.

The company prospered. It developed a clientele among both re­tailers and wholesalers. The major Italian middlemen who worked the Northeastern market bought large orders of Uddo-Taormina toma­toes. “We were playing both ends of the stick,” Frank Uddo, who was now working with the company, said.

World War II boosted sales. “During the war you could pack any­thing and sell it,” Frank said. The company had to increase domestic production because “they couldn’t import any product,” John Taormina, Vincent’s son, recalled. In 1942 they bought an old factory in Vineland, New Jersey.

John Viola of Italian American Podcast reviews Little Palermo Historic Markers and Tour App

John Viola and Rossella Rago of Italian American Podcast at Venezia’s in New Orleans

John Viola and Rossella Rago of the Italian American Podcast spent the weekend in New Orleans as part of the St. Joseph’s Society Marching Club’s events.

Friday started with the 50th annual pasta celebration, which is 500lbs of pasta. Since 2006 the pasta has been prepared by Chef David Grecco.

Pictured with the “Bowl of Pasta” are Peter Gilberti, President of the St. Joseph’s Society; Anabella Imbornone, Queen for 2020; John Viola, Rossella Rago, Michael Fave, of De Cecco Pasta; and Chef David Grecco.

Peter Gilberti, Anabella Imbornone, John Viola, Rossella Rago, Michael Fava, and David Grecco.

For 2020 Italian American Podcast filmed the places to experience the Sicilian Migration to New Orleans. John and Rosella started Saturday at the Jazz Museum, which has an exhibit for Louis Prima during 2019-2021.

Rosella and John at the Louis Prima exhibit at the Jazz Museum

Outside the Jazz Museum is the first of several planned markers on the Sicilian Migration to New Orleans. On the markers is an free App of Sicilian points of interest in the French Quarter. John downloaded the APP to his phone via the QR Code.

Next stop was the site of the 1891 lynching of eleven Italians by a mob.

The 1891 lynching occurred at a prison that is now the Municipal Auditorium.
Brocato’s Gelato opened in the lower French Quarter and later moved to Mid-City.
The day ended with dinner at Venezia’s. Pizza was the opening dish. .
Family dining at Venezia’s.

Sophia Parigi sings the Italian National Anthem

Sophia Parigi lives in New Orleans

Starting on Friday March 13th, Italians began singing their national anthem during thier lockdown at 6pm. On March 16th the Italian Air Force flew overhead.

In New Orleans, Sophia Parigi sings the Italian National Anthem with AWE News adding the Italian Air Force show of flag colors from the exhaust.

As a show of support to Italy, consider playing the national anthem while they are singing it.

Italy is 11.5 Days ahead of US with Coronavirus-19

Umberto Mucci with Charles Marsala in Washington D.C. at the Naitonal Italian Expo in 2019

On Friday March 13, 2020 Umberto Mucci of Rome Italy was interviewed by Charles Marsala on WGSO Radio 990am in New Orleans for 45 minutes.

Umberto Mucci is the publisher of www.WetheItalians.com in Rome Italy. Charles Marsala is the President of the American-Italian Federation of the Southeast.

The 45-minute interview covers several topics including what happens after the lock-down ends. Mucci explains the rules of the lockdown and how his family is adapting. Mucci noted that Italy is 11.5 days ahead of the US in the development of the Corona-19 Virus.

The lockdown is designed to stop the spread to southern Italy and Sicily, as they do not have the facilities to deal with mass hospitalization.

Italy is classifying any the death of any individual with complications of the Corona virus-19 as having died from the virus regardless of any pre-existing illnesses.

One concern is what happens after Italy ends the lockdown, but other countries in Europe are still dealing with spikes. Will travelers from those countries be allowed into Italy?

As of Monday March 9, 2020 New Orleans had no cases of Corona-19 by Monday March 16, New Orleans had 105 cases.

Italy started on March 13th at 6pm (Italian time) or noon New Orleans time singing the national anthem.

Marsala suggested American Italians sing the Italian National at 6pm in support.

Mucci advised that a Go Fund Me page had been created.

St. Joseph’s Society 50th Pasta Luncheon

The St. Joseph’s Society of New Orleans hosts its 50th Pasta Luncheon

One of the oldest popular traditions in Sicily is  St. Joseph’s Day, whose celebrations take place on March 19th. Sacred and profane mix together during this day, because it’s surely a moment of deep devotion and homage to St. Joseph, but it’s also a folkloristic feast rich in traditions and joyful moments.

Although it’s also celebrated throughout Italy, this day has a special meaning for Sicilians. According to legend, during the Middle Ages, Sicily was affected by a terrible drought and famine: many people died of starvation and Sicilians started praying and begging St. Joseph promising him to celebrate his day with the “St. Joseph’s table”, an altar with special foods, flowers and devotional object as their thanksgiving for his great miracle.

New Orleans was the place of immigration for over 60,000 Sicilians during 1884-1915. The tradition of be grateful and giving on St. Joseph’s Day continues began in New Orleans and has spread throughout America.

The St. Joseph’s Society feeds the poor, teaches altar building, and parades in New Orleans, and transfers the heritage and values of Sicilian ancestors from generation to generation.

Their honoring of St. Joseph begins on the Friday before the parade with a 500lb bowl of pasta and the presentation of scholarships. Their parade for 2020 has been postponed due to the Corona Virus.

Morris Vaccarella with Olivia Christensen, his granddaughter, who is the artist of the 2020 poster.
The annual pasta luncheon is a celebration.
Pasta, Pasta, and Pasta
Celebrating 50 years
Sponsored by De Cecco Pasta and covered by Italian American Podcast
John Viola of New York and the Italian American Podcast with Charles Marsala, President of the American-Italian Federation of the Southeast.
Setting the stage: On the left is Chef David Grecco. St. Joseph’s Society President Peter Gilberti, 2020 Queen Anabella Imbornone, and long time announcer Judge Russo.
A memorable event for all generations.
Italian media: Rossella Rago, John Viola, Charles Marsala, Mark Fonte.

New Orleans Society of Cefalutana Day at the Races


The Fairgrounds horse Race Track of New Orleans hosted sixty members of the Societa Italiana di Mutua Beneficenza Cefalutana on Sunday March 8, 2020.

Cefalù is a city located geographically in the middle of the northern coast of Sicily. The word “Cefalutana” comes from the old Sicilian dialect, meaning “of or from Cefalù.”

The Società Italiana di Mutua Beneficenza Cefalutana was founded in New Orleans, Louisiana, on June 19, 1887, and incorporated on August 10, 1887. 

Its officers are: David Matassa, President; Christopher Series Bardes, First vice-president; Peter Lamanna Sr., Second vice-president; Rose Brocato, Secretary; Lisa Serio, Treasurer; Edwin Reeves, Jr., Financial Secretary; and Conchetta MAresciallo, Grand Marshall.

The original purpose of the Società Cefalutana was for mutual benefit (Mutua Beneficenza) of the many immigrants who came from Cefalu`. They assisted each other in times of illness, death, financial need, language/cultural difficulties, etc.  These early members, working together in a true spirit of brotherhood with their “paisani,” enabled the mainstreaming of the entire group into American society.  Thanks to their efforts, and those who followed them, the ideals of the Society have not changed.

During World War I the Società raised funds from throughout the South for the defense of Cefalù, including purchasing a cannon for their mother village.

On June 5, 1908, the Società Cefalutana joined with other Italian immigrant societies to form the Italian Hall Association. This organization was responsible for the purchase, on July 1, 1912, of the building at 1020 Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans, thereafter called the Italian Hall. Members were either immigrants or descendants of immigrants who had struggled to make a new life in America. The Italian Hall was used as a meeting place for these societies.  Historic records show many parties and dances were held there to help raise money for the less fortunate. In 1966 this historic building was sold, and converted to luxury condominiums. Still on and with the building are the Italian Coat-of-Arms inscribed with the words “Unione Italiana” located on the top of its front and two lions which guard its front entrance.

Membership is open only to those over the age of 18 who have blood ties to Cefalù.  Spouses may be associate dues-paying members and are entitled to all benefits. Children of adult members will be considered members until they reach their eighteenth birthday, at which time they can apply to become full members.

National Park Service exhibits Sicilian Migration to New Orleans

Briana Cervantes of the National Park Service & Charles Marsala, President of the American-Italian Federation of the Southeast

The Jean Lafitte facility of National Park Service of New Orleans for March is presenting information on the Sicilian Migration into New Orleans. As part of the month’s activities Charles Marsala presented 60 slides in one hour on the history from 1682 to present.

Display board at National Park Service in New Orleans

Columbus Circle was erected in 1892 to support New Orleans Italians after the lynching of 1891. Columbus was chosen as a explorer representing those seeking a better life.
Metairie Cemetery is home to many beautiful Sicilian Mausoleums.
March 19th is St. Joseph’s Day. St. Joseph is special to the Italian & Sicilian Community.

Link to slide presentaiton slideshow by Charles Marsala

Charles Marsala’s presenation began with Henri de Tonti landing in Buras in 1682 and Bayou Goula in 1686.

The presentation included information on the new New Orleans Insider tour app for “Little Palermo.” which has forty stops in the French Quarter of New Orleans. AWE News has created eight playlists of 30 minutes each on the Silian Migration.

Marsala’s presentation include products and concepts Sicilians and Italians brought to Louisiana or were involved with developing: The Muffaletta, the individual cocktail, the LSU Fighting Tigers, changing the name from Jass to Jazz, advising Lincoln to make the war of 1861 to end slavery.

Member of the New Orleans organizations and Italian societies attended the presentation which covered the Mausoleums of Metairie Cemeteries.

March is an important month for New Orleans Sicilians has the infamous lynching of March 14, 1891. On March 14, 1891 a mob of 5,000 lynched eleven Sicilians. Nine were shot and two were hanged. In 2019, Mayor Latoya Cantrell aploogized for the involvement of then Mayor Joseph Shakspeare in the lynching.

Through Louisiana numerous cities will celebrate St. Joseph’s Day on March 19th. On July 17th the State Italian Federation will host a convention followed by the Baton Rouge Italian Society’s Festa on July 18th. Lena Prima will perform on the night of the 17th.

50th St. Joseph’s Marching Society Parade


The IASJS St Joseph’s Day poster celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Parade! This piece is artfully crafted by Miss Olivia Angeline Christensen, 19. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to own a piece of history celebrating 50 years of honoring St Joseph and Pride In Our Italian Heritage!

Interview with Captain Peter Gilberti

Olivia’s first year as an IASJS Parade Maid was at 4 years old (2005). She currently is a freshmen at NC State University in Raleigh, North Carolina studying Design and International Business. The love of art, her family heritage and tradition inspired her to design the 50th Anniversary Poster for the Italian American St. Joseph Society.

The poster is offered in two sizes. 12″x18″ (Small) @ $25 each and 24″x36″ (Large) @ $45 each. This treasure will be available for sale at both General Membership Meetings at the KC Hall on Vicksburg St (March 4 & 11), the Maid Presentation at the Piazza d Italia (March 8), the Pasta Party (March 13) and the night of the Gala (March 14).

Grand Marshal for the 2020 50th Anniversary Parade, Michael Badalucco, a Brooklyn native, got his start in the entertainment industry at a very young age, going to work with his father Giuseppe, a Sicilian-born immigrant, who worked as a carpenter on movie sets.

In 1963, during the filming of Fail Safe starring Henry Fonda, a photo of a young boy was needed. Eight-year old Badalucco posed for the picture, and thus began his acting career. He went on to Xaverian H.S. and got his first taste of theatre there in musicals like A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and dramas like Shaw’s St. Joan. He began his formal acting studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz. It was there that he cut his teeth on stage, performing in over 20 plays. He graduated with a B.A. in Theatre Arts in 1976.

In 2003, his alma mater conferred upon him an honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, citing his “extraordinary success while never losing perspective on what is important in life.” His first speaking role was in the feature film Raging Bull, directed by Martin Scorsese, which led to additional roles in movies such as Broadway Danny Rose, directed by Woody Allen.

Throughout the 1990’s, Badalucco appeared in a series of memorable supporting roles in such acclaimed films as Miller’s Crossing, Sleepless in Seattle, Jungle Fever, The Professional, and Mac. His performance in the romantic comedy One Fine Day,prompted star Michelle Pfeiffer to recommend Badalucco to her husband,David E. Kelley, for a role in his ABC television series The Practice. Not only did Badalucco get the part, but his performance as Jimmy Berluti would ultimately serve as his breakout role. In 1999 he received the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Next, on the big screen, he portrayed serial killer David Berkowitz in Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam.

He then stepped into the shoes of notorious gangster George “Baby Face” Nelson for the throwback Coen Brothers comedy, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and appeared in their subsequent film, The Man Who Wasn’t There.

In addition to Badalucco’s love of acting, he has been involved with a number of charitable organizations which include The Jimmy Fund and The Little Sisters of the Poor. In 2003, Habitat for Humanity of Los Angeles presented him with the Building Hope Award. He received the Heart of the City Award from Heartshare Human Services of New York in 2005. In 2013, he was inducted into the Diocese of Brooklyn Hall of Fame. Mr. Badalucco is privileged to support Italian-American causes through his work with the National Italian American Foundation and Arba Sicula, an organization which preserves, studies, and promotes the language and culture of Sicily.

Anabella Odillie Imbornone was born in Metairie, LA on July 25, 2001 to Daniel and Sylvia Imbornone. Her father Daniel C. Imbornone is board member and treasurer for our organization and her uncle Charles A. Imbornone is also a board member. Her brother, Antonio is a member as well as her grandfather Charles J. Imbornone and all of her uncles and cousins.

Anabella has participated in our organization since she was 4 years old, making this her 15th consecutive year as a Maid. She graduated from St. Martin’s High School in May 2019 with academic honors including earning the award of Commended Scholar for the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. She was a member of the National Honor Society and earned athletic awards from both St. Martin’s and the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Anabella lettered in cross country, indoor track and track and field her four years of high school.

She has been a volunteer for organizations like Race for the Cure, Nola BlueDoo Run, Habitat for Humanity, Luna Fete Arts Council of New Orleans, Terraces on Tulane Nursing Home, Homer-A-Plessy Community School and Kehoe France School during her high school career. Anabella was awarded three academic scholarships from Auburn University in Auburn, AL where she is currently majoring in early childhood education. She is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority where she holds three different director and chairwoman positions.

She spends her free time volunteering for the Boys and Girls Club of the cities of Auburn and Opelika, AL, as well as Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in Columbus, GA. She also volunteered the past two years with our organization at the St Jude Community Center to help provide food for the less fortunate, a tradition she hopes to continue. Anabella is humbled and honored to be representing her family, her heritage and our organization in our 50th anniversary as our 2020 Queen.

Little Palermo Tour App

The app has over 60 points of interest with 35 in the French Quarter
Italian points of interest extend outside New Orleans

From Nola.com’s 2018 series on the 300th Anniversary of the founding of New Orleans.

“Starting in 1884 and continuing through to 1924, an estimated 290,000 Italian immigrants — a great deal of them from Sicily — arrived in New Orleans, fleeing economic and political turmoil. In short order, their indelible influence would be felt on the city.

With the French Quarter no longer a fashionable address, many of the city’s more well-heeled residents moved Uptown, leaving the city’s newcomers to set up shop there and in surrounding neighborhoods. In fact, they did so literally: So many Italian-owned mom-and-pop corner groceries dotted the French Quarter, and so many Italian farmers sold their wares in the French Market, that the Quarter eventually became unofficially known as “Little Palermo.” “