PROVIDENCE — Rhode Islanders poured into Providence’s Federal Hill neighborhood Sunday morning to watch the Columbus Day Parade, a feature of the three-day festival held each year over the long weekend. Among the various marching bands and organizations that participated in Sunday’s event, the 28th annual, a group of West Warwick High School students had come to represent their school while they celebrated Italian heritage.
The West Warwick High School Italian Club has participated for seven years in the parade, said Rosario Tramontana, an Italian and Spanish teacher at the school.
Tramontana, who advises the Italian Club, said he feels honored to have his students march each year alongside members of the Order of Sons and Daughters of Italy in America.
“It is truly an honor to be able to represent the Italian language and culture, furthermore being part of an event that has grown to represent many other nationalities,” Tramontana continued.
Students in the Italian Club gathered Thursday afternoon to prepare for the event, decorating T-shirts with Italian flags and pizza pies and messages like “ciao!”
Carrying a large banner that read “Il Club D’Italiano WWHS,” 20 members of the school’s Italian Club marched along Atwells Avenue Sunday.
For Lineiska Figueroa, a junior at West Warwick High School, the experience of marching in the parade was one to remember.
“It was really fun,” Figueroa said just after marching, the colors of Italy painted across her cheeks. “I got to see a lot of kind faces in the audience section, and the kids looked so happy grabbing candy.”
Natalia Perez said that she, too, had a great time. Holding onto a small Italian flag, Perez, a ninth-grader, said she enjoyed the energy of the event.
Standing beside Perez, ninth-grader Rachel Loper agreed.
“The energy was really positive and it was a fun experience,” said Loper, whose entire face was painted in red, green and white.
For Perez, Loper, and many of the other West Warwick students who participated, Sunday’s parade was their first.
Luciano Niolet, a ninth-grader, said he appreciated being invited to celebrate his Italian heritage among the crowds that had gathered for the event.
“It’s good to have the festivities open to people like this, and have everybody be able to express their Italian side,” Niolet said.
Shaiden Nicolace shared a similar sentiment.
“It was really a good experience,” Nicolace said, standing amongst a group of her fellow ninth-graders. “It was fun, we saw a lot of smiling faces, we got to be together. It was our first parade, so it was a really good time.”