Harrison parade celebrates, honors community

Large crowds filled both sides of Halstead Avenue Monday to join in the early morning festivities of the town’s annual Columbus Day Parade and “It’s Great to Live in Harrison” celebration.

Large crowds filled both sides of Halstead Avenue Monday to join in the early morning festivities of the town’s annual Columbus Day Parade and “It’s Great to Live in Harrison” celebration.

Members of the Harrison community, political leaders of both the town and state, local business owners and out-of-towners alike gathered in Harrison on Oct. 14 to celebrate both Columbus Day and conclude the “It’s Great to Live in Harrison” festivities.

Students of the Harrison Avenue Elementary School march in the Columbus Day Parade. Photos/Bobby Begun

Students of the Harrison Avenue Elementary School march in the Columbus Day Parade. Photos/Bobby Begun

Boasting various Harrison floats, organizations and groups, the parade began on Halstead Avenue and turned toward Ma Riis Park on Sunnyside Place, where a full festival began shortly thereafter.

The parade featured many organizations close to the Harrison community, such as the police and fire departments, the Harrison High School marching band, various ethnic organizations, antique cars and more.

Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont, a Republican, was happy with the turnout.

“This is tremendous,” Belmont said. “Everyone’s here; everyone comes together on this day.”

The “It’s Great to Live in Harrison” tradition began in the mid-1970s during the bicentennial celebrations across the United States, which celebrated the 200th anniversary of the adoption of

Future stars of Bruce Chung’s Tae Kwon Do school on Halstead Avenue.

Future stars of Bruce Chung’s Tae Kwon Do school on Halstead Avenue.

the Declaration of Independence. Starting behind the Harrison Avenue Elementary School in 1976, along with a small parade through Purchase, the event has blossomed over the last few decades into a full community celebration.

The political presence during the parade and festival was felt throughout the day as town, county and state elected officials mingled with community members. New York State Sen. George Latimer, Assemblyman David Buchwald, both Democrats, Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and his Democratic challenger in November’s election, New
Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, were all in attendance.

“Harrison is just a great all-American city,” Bramson said. “You see people from all walks of life celebrating as a community.”

Ava Danziger, 4, joins in the flag-waving at the well-attended Columbus Day Parade on Monday.

Ava Danziger, 4, joins in the flag-waving at the well-attended Columbus Day Parade on Monday.

Volunteers from both campaigns distributed pamphlets and paraphernalia for Astorino and Bramson while the candidates talked with people along Halstead Avenue.

“It’s like an Italian Norman Rockwell painting,” Astorino said. “All the people coming together like this; it’s a wonderful day.”

Lifelong Harrison resident Roy Aletti brought along a special guest to the parade, his “king pumpkin,” which weighs in at 1,239 pounds. A parade participant for more than 30 years, Aletti, a small business owner in Harrison, has family ties to the community going back more than a century.

“The festival and parade makes me proud,” Aletti said. “I’m proud of this community, and I love giving back anyway I can.”

Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont, left, and other elected officials, welcome a large crowd to the town’s “It’s Great to Live in Harrison” festivities.

Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont, left, and other elected officials, welcome a large crowd to the town’s “It’s Great to Live in Harrison” festivities.

– Reporting by Phil Nobile