This month we have an exceptional guest for our column "Person of the Month." As you might know, October is Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month. Every year in New York City, one of the most anticipated and celebrated events is definitely the Columbus Day Parade. And so, to mark the occasion, we decided to get to know better and have a chat with someone who knows the parade very well: Marian Pardo, Chair of the Columbus Citizens Foundation.
Ms. Pardo, could we ask you about your background?
I was born on the north shore of Long Island, where many Italian immigrants went to service the gold coast estates. After completing college, I went to work on Wall Street. I guess the north shore of Long Island had a strong influence; I worked for 35 years for JP Morgan. My husband and I reside in Manhattan and have a summer house on Fire Island.
What is your relationship with the Columbus Day Parade?
I have been a proud member of the Columbus Citizens Foundation since 1994, wanting to find somewhere where fraternity and philanthropy meet. The foundation celebrates and supports Italian heritage and funds worthy causes principally through our scholarship programs. I always march! I have been lucky to march as the President of the Foundation and now as its Board Chair.
What does the parade represent for you personally?
For me the parade is a great blend of ethnic pride in the cultural mosaic of New York City, the mecca for so many Italian immigrants and other countries.
Could you share some memories about the parades you attended during these years?
There were years when the Italian regional governments sent floats and representatives; the Italian companies sent representatives: the Ducati motorcycles going up Fifth Avenue were fabulous. My most fun moment was marching up Fifth Avenue with mayor Bloomberg in the contingent with the foundation.
What is your favorite Italian food?
I really like peasant food: escarole with beans and a chunk of meat; the end of the prosciutto if you were lucky!
What do you like most about Italy?
Wherever you are, you can find a hill to climb and feel serene.
When you think of your grandmother, which Italian dish comes to mind?
What we used to call Easter cookies: a vanilla dough shaped into a knot and glazed with icing. I mostly remember it because I remember so well her hands making the dough and shaping the cookies; just thinking of it makes me feel comforted.