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Co-Grand Marshals Chosen for 28th Annual Ocean County Columbus Day Parade and Italian Festival

The Ocean County Columbus Day Parade Committee is proud to announce that Dr. Maureen J. Persi and her husband, Melindo A. Persi will serve as Co-Grand Marshals for this 28th Annual Celebration. This year’s Columbus Day Parade will be held on Sunday, October 13, in conjunction with the three-day Italian Festival beginning on Friday, October 11.

“Every year we are faced with the difficult task of selecting a person from the many deserving candidates to serve as the ceremonial leader of our Parade and Italian Festival,” said screening committee member Pamela Santamaria. “After thoroughly reviewing and considering all the candidates this year, the screening committee felt that although several terrific nominations were submitted, Maureen and Melindo Persi should jointly be our Grand Marshals.  Their community involvement and leadership over the years in the educational field contributed to our decision. Especially for their leadership and efforts within Italian Organizations over the years,” Santamaria added.

Maureen was born and raised in Paterson and grew up in the Italian section known as Riverside. After graduating from William Paterson University, she began a successful career in education. Over the next 34 plus years she was instrumental in starting many new programs with her students. Maureen has been recognized many times over the years for those efforts. In 1990, she was the recipient of the Governor’s Recognition Award and most recently in October of 2018, she was inducted into the Italian American National Hall of Fame. She was also selected three times by students to appear in Who’s Who Among Outstanding Teachers in America. In 1998 and 2003 Maureen was the recipient of the New Jersey Department of Education Best Practice Award.

Dr. Persi’s community and association involvement stretches from New Jersey to Florida. She has served on the Glen Ridge “MCADA,” as well as the Fort Lauderdale Education Advisory Board. Additionally, Maureen has served or is currently serving on the following Associations: New Jersey Principal’s and Supervisors, New Jersey Professional Woman’s Association, Northeast Coalition of Educational Leaders, New Jersey Education Council of Education, New Jersey Schoolmaster’s Club, American Association of School Administrators and American Association of University Women.

Melindo was born in Trenton and followed in his mother’s footsteps, with a career in education that spans more than 50 years. He has also spent many years volunteering and giving back to the community. He has been a teacher sponsor for the American Red Cross, President of a local Kiwanis Club, Chairperson of a Red Cross Chapter and Chairperson of the Harriman Division of the Red Cross. During this time period he was named to Outstanding Young Men of America and Who’s Who in New Jersey.  In 2007, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of School Administrators at their National Convention. He has been very active in UNICO and most recently served as President of the Brick chapter of UNICO. Additionally, he served as UNICO National Treasurer and as a District Governor. He also served honorably in the United States Air Force.

Mr. Persi’s community involvement has or currently includes the Passaic County Superintendent of Schools, President and Secretary of the New Jersey Association of Former County Superintendents, Secretary of the American Red Cross, Eastern USA, Chairperson of School Business Service Committee and County School Business Administrators. Especially important to Italian organizations is his membership in the Italian American Sportsman’s Club of Trenton.

Parade Chairman Michael Blandina noted that a husband and wife team has served separately as Grand Marshal in the past, but this is the first time a husband and wife will serve at the same time as Co-Grand Marshals. “Maureen and Melindo stood out among this year’s nominees because of their commitment in the education of our youth for combined time of more than a half a century. Additionally, their effort as members of an Italian American organization contributed to the decision,” said screening committee member John Giavatto. “We are confident that these two extraordinary individuals will uphold the fine tradition established by their predecessors. We are looking forward to having Dr. Maureen Persi and Melindo Persi lead our twenty-eighth annual celebration as Grand Marshals during this year’s celebration,” he added.

A reception announcing and honoring the Persis will be held on Thursday, July 11 at the White Sands Resort on Ocean Avenue in Point Pleasant Beach, starting at 6:30 pm. For more information contact Michael at 732 477-6507 or e-mail the committee at: [email protected].


CO-GRAND MARSHALS of the 2019 Columbus Day Parade are husband and wife Dr. Maureen J. and Melindo Persi.