Essex County commissioners celebrate Italian American Heritage Month

NEWARK, NJ — On Tuesday, Oct. 5, the Essex County Board of County Commissioners held its 2021 Italian Heritage Celebration via Zoom. The ceremony, which returned after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, is held to celebrate Italian culture and heritage, highlighting the contributions of Italian Americans in Essex County.

Commissioner President Wayne L. Richardson opened the program with greetings to the honorees and viewing audience, and expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to once again celebrate Italian heritage and culture. 

“We did not have this celebration last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are learning to navigate the new normal and are happy to resume our traditions,” he said.

District 4 Commissioner Leonard Luciano also offered greetings to start the ceremony. 

“I am honored to be here alongside my commissioner colleagues to celebrate Italian heritage, and recognize the achievements of a few members of our Italian American community here in Essex County,” Luciano said.

This year, the board recognized Sgt. Joseph J. Corio of the Bloomfield Police Department; New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso, of Livingston; Montclair Deputy Mayor and 1st Ward Councilman William Hurlock; and Dr. Frank Mazzarella, chief continuum care officer at Clara Maass Medical Center.

Corio, who was introduced by Commissioner Vice President Carlos Pomares, has been a sergeant in the Bloomfield Police Department since June 2014 and the Traffic Division supervisor since August 2020. He joined the Bloomfield Police Department in 1998 and in May 2007 he was voted president of Bloomfield PBA Local 32. He embraced this difficult task and has worked diligently to maintain the integrity of what is commonly referred to as the “strongest PBA local in the state.” He is a member of the Bloomfield Police Department Honor Guard and the Essex County Rapid Development Team.

Fiordaliso, who was introduced by Commissioner Patricia Sebold, was initially appointed to the NJBPU in 2005 and has served as president since 2018. He was born and raised in the Ironbound section of Newark. He is a first-generation American on his father’s side, as his father was born in Sicily. In addition to his leadership with respect to environmental responsibility, combating climate change and improving energy efficiency, he has an extensive record as a public servant. He was elected to the Livingston Township Council in 1988, served for three terms, and was elected mayor three times during his tenure. In 2003, he was named “Citizen of the Year” by the Livingston Chapter of UNICO National.

Hurlock, who was introduced by Commissioner Brendan Gill, is a fourth-generation Italian American. To recognize the longstanding Italian American heritage present in the Montclair community, he helped establish the sister city program between Montclair and Aquilonia, Italy. He has participated in numerous events here and in Italy as part of that collaboration. He is an honorary member of the Club Aquilonese San Vito Society of Montclair and works closely with the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel community outreach program.

Mazzarella, who was introduced by Commissioner Robert Mercado, oversees the successful transfer of patients to services that are needed throughout their care at Clara Maass, up to and including discharge and post-care treatment. His work was especially key during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when he managed patient transfers across the state to allow for additional patient admissions at Clara Maass. Prior to his time as a medical administrator, he operated a successful private internal medicine practice in Nutley from 1982 to 2001.

The board also recognized the members of the 2021 Nutley–Belleville Columbus Day Parade & Italian Heritage Committee for their diligent work in making sure the Columbus Day Parade is a success. They also acknowledged the 2021 parade honorees: Grand Marshal Anthony Pope; Belleville Man of the Year Martin Giardina Lutz; Belleville Woman of the Year Elaine Perna; Nutley Man of the Year Paul Cafone; Nutley Woman of the Year Nella Cicchino; Dr. Mary Ellen Clyne for her “community excellence”; Italian business leader Anthony Biondi Jr.; Renaissance Men Brian Banda and Michael Chieffo; Joseph Zarra, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award; and Vincent Socca, who received the Heritage Award.

Further highlights of the program included opening and closing prayers from the Rev. Father Thomas D. Nicastro, of St. Mary’s Church in Nutley, and musical selections performed by Gabrianna Boomer, cantor at St. Mary’s Church.

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