Dear Fellow Italian Americans:
What an amazingly difficult year it has been. Hurricane Katrina tried her best to wipe us off the map. However, in true Italian fashion, we remain resilient and ready to celebrate life like never before. While some of our membership has been lost to displacement, we continue on as a vibrant and proud organization. Personally, I ask that if ever you had considered joining our group, you do so now. Consider this your call to arms as you join your Italian brothers in what promises to be our proudest moment. When we take to the streets of New Orleans in March, we will demonstrate to the world the true nature of our Italian heritage. Join us as we drink to conquering adversity!
Therefore, on behalf of the Italian American Marching Club, it is my honor to officially extend an invitation to join our organization. The Italian American Marching Club is the largest Italian organization in the Southeastern United States. Our organization was founded in 1970, and we have climbed to heights of 1000 members in recent years. Our objective is to keep our Italian heritage strong and prevalent.
Our organization is unique in that we have incorporated the focal point of New Orleans' festive culture, the parade, into our love of our Italian heritage. We do this in celebration of St. Joseph's Day each year. This year our Annual St. Joseph's Parade will take place on Saturday, March 18, 2005. Our marchers, dressed in black tuxedos, celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph by parading through New Orleans' famous French Quarter. Thousands of locals and tourists line the streets to take part in our celebration. We exchange salutations, hand out silk flowers and fava beans, and dance and sing with the bystanders.
We follow our parade with a gala in the Grand Ballroom of the New Orleans Hilton. Our beautiful, young Italian signorinas are formally presented during this gala. We enjoy the wine and dance the Tarantella all night long. This event is the pinnacle of each year's celebration. However, we do enjoy numerous events throughout the year.
In addition to our Annual St. Joseph's Parade, our members enjoy the following:
1. Our Annual St. Joseph's Pasta Party - This event actually occurs the day before our parade at noon at the New Orleans Hilton Hotel. During this event, our Grand Marshal, our Queen, and our Caesar are presented to the public. There is plenty of music and wine. We have the world's largest bowl of meatballs and spaghetti. All members are invited. It's a great way to start our weekend celebration.
2. Our Annual St. Joseph's Honoree Dinner - This is a fantastic dinner party held the night before our parade. At this dinner, our members have the opportunity to meet and dine with our Grand Marshal, our Queen, and our Caesar. There is always plenty of music and plenty of fun.
3. Our Annual St. Joseph's Parade Party - This party begins several hours prior to our annual St. Joseph's Parade. This pre-parade party sets the tone for our parade. As the music plays, our members eat, drink, socialize, and prepare for the evening's festivities. Wives and girlfriends are most welcome.
4. Our Annual St. Joseph's Dance - This is a beautiful event that takes place immediately following the completion of our parade. For the past several years, we have held this event in the Grand Ballroom of the New Orleans Hilton Hotel. The dance begins at approximately 9:00 p.m., and the live band plays past 1:00 a.m. Our beautiful parade maids are presented and escorted by their sponsors. We provide drink mixers, muffalettas, and Italian cookies. Members are welcome to bring whatever other refreshments they may desire. Members may purchase as many tickets for this dance as they desire.
5. Our Distribution Meetings - Each year, we have at least three meetings prior to our St. Joseph's Parade. This is a great chance for our members to socialize, have a few drinks, and begin preparing for the upcoming parade. The members are advised of the official parade route, our parade rules, the identity of the Grand Marshal, and all of the upcoming functions.
6. Our Annual Picnic - This is a great way to relax with friends and family. Our picnic takes place on a Sunday in October. We have held our picnic at Lafreniere Park for the past few years. We have music, a Bocce Ball Tournament, and our famous Meatball Eating Contest. There are also games and activities for the children. If that's not enough, there are free soft drinks, beer, daiquiris, and ice cream. Members bring their favorite picnic food, and many actually barbecue at the picnic site.
7. Opportunity to Sponsor Your Daughter or Granddaughter as a Maid in Our Annual St. Joseph's Parade - Members may sponsor maids from 5 years-old to 21 years-old. Our maids not only ride in our parade, but they also participate in several functions leading up to the parade. There is a presentation at the New Orleans Museum of Art, a luncheon for the maids and their sponsors, a tea for our maid court, and a presentation at the St. Joseph's Dance.
8. Opportunity to Establish and Enjoy Lasting Friendships - Our membership is very diverse. While most of our members live in Louisiana, many of our members live in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, California, Texas, Mississippi, and Florida.
We are a non-profit organization, so we keep our dues reasonable. Our annual dues are a mere $55.00 per year. We also have travel group packages available which includes all your membership fee and all your throws needs for the parade. You can also purchase additional throws prior to the St. Joseph's Parade Party. Visit our travel groupwebsite.
If you are unable to come and participate in our Italian celebration, please consider becoming a donor member. A donor membership is a donation of the membership fee, $55.00, this is a way to help our organization rebuild.
If you need to rent a tuxedo for the parade, several of our members own tuxedo rental stores in the Greater New Orleans area. They provide our organization with excellent prices and service. You can call them with your measurements. They will have your tuxedo ready and waiting for you in New Orleans! You can pick up your tuxedo the day before the parade or even the day of the parade.
We are sincerely honored by your interest in the Italian American Marching Club. If you have any questions or require additional information regarding our organization, please visit our website at www.italianamericanmarchingclub.org or www.italianclub.org. The website includes information on our organization's history, benefits of membership, photographs, newsletters, and contact information. There is even a Membership Application, which can be completed, on-line and/or printed.
Come join us and keep the Italian Heritage alive in New Orleans!
Mark Gristina Sigur
ITALIAN AMERICAN MARCHING CLUB