By: Catrina Leone, intern
October isn’t just the month for changing leaves, pumpkin carving and pumpkin coffee, it is also Italian American Heritage Month! This wonderful event was held at Cleveland City Hall Rotunda on Monday October 7th from 6pm-8pm. This event kicked off a month-long celebration of the Italian-American Community in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. The fun began with an opening prayer from Father Vincent Polito and opening remarks from Councilman Matt Zone. Before Mayor Frank Jackson welcomed everyone, the Italian and US National Anthem were sung. This event is honoring the various honorees for categories such as City Employee and Business. Each of these deserving honorees has a lot to offer and bring to the table. Personally coming from an Italian-American family, I find this event to be a great honor for everyone involved, Mayor Frank Jackson and Councilman Zone hold this every year! Just to give you all a brief mention of each honoree, we will begin with City Employee honoree Thomas Berardinelli who is a second generation Italian American who is a member of Holy Redeemer Church and the Collinwood Memories Club, whose members raise money and volunteer to help keep the Kipling Avenue Church open. Tom has over 40 years of experience in Forestry. Next up, we have Entrepreneur Joseph Corneo, who was born in Naples, Italy! He has restored over 10 buildings on Lorain Avenue, one of which got him recognized by the mayor. He restored the G Detzel Building located at 9722 Lorain Avenue. His most cherished accomplishment is “Caffe Roma”, located on Cleveland’s west side. Cristina DiFranco is the youth honoree, who is a senior at Mayfield High School. She is a member of the national honor society and has won 1st place in the Northeast Ohio Science and Engineering Fair! She is a very talented musician and writer, winning awards in both of those areas as well. She is someone to look up too! Father Martin F. Polito was honored for his work in the clergy. He was ordained to priesthood in 1976 and then went on to graduate from Borremeo Seminary College in 1972. His pastoral experience includes Camp Happiness for mentally and physically handicapped children. He is active in the Collinwood Nottingham Development Corporation and is Chaplin to the Northern Ohio Italian American Foundation. Moving on to arts and culture where Elaine Scalzi Hopkins was recognized. She retired from nursing and is an avid supporter of the Arts. She was raised in Steubenville Ohio and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Lake Erie College and her nursing degree at Case Western University. She is a parishioner at St. Anne’s Parish. Angela Difranco Talbort was the individual honoree for the evening. Angela is a lifelong advocate working for the solidarity of Northeast Ohio’s Italian American Community. Angela has raised her two children in Mayfield Heights since her husband’s passing in 2003. She served as president of the federation of Italian American Societies of Northern Ohio for 18 years. Angela has a strong sense of faith which show in her many astounding accomplishments. Angela has served as president of the Women’s Guild for 2 terms and is a member of Holy Redeemer Church. Last but certainly not least we have The Miceli Family being honored for Business. Miceli Dairy Products is one of the largest manufacturers of ricotta cheese in the nation and is a family owned business. Their amazing products can also be found in many local schools and governments. Joseph D. Miceli is the CEO along with siblings John, Carol, and Rosemarie. The Miceli family shares a passion for their heritage and community, which shows in their products and business. Like me, they are proud to be Italian and do everything they can to show that! They are very committed to Cleveland, where they grew up themselves and will be passing down their amazing Italian products for many generations to come. Congratulations to all the honorees for this year, keep up the great work! Another mention of the evening: Pasqualina Zindroski was the lovely winner of the 16th Annual Miss Casa Italia Pageant, promoting Italy everywhere she goes, by teaching the Italian language. Being Italian is more than just a heritage, it’s a lifestyle and a passion. “The secret to happiness in life is to love, and the essence of love is to serve”-Monsignor J. Patrick Carroll-Abbing. That quote sums up the entire event, love conquers all and you need to love what you do and have passion for what you do, always. Reporter and anchor Leah Haslage was at the event covering all the fun and excitement, which there will be a lot more of for many years to come! Stay tuned to TV20 Cleveland for more coverage on this event and all the other excitement happening daily in Cleveland.