Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia buzzed with excitement as the 2023 Italian-American Heritage Parade and Festival unfolded, co-hosted by 6abc’s Alicia Vitarelli. A diverse crowd, numbering in the hundreds, came together to celebrate Italian heritage.

The event was a feast for the senses, featuring traditional music, lively dancing, enticing vendors, and mouthwatering Italian cuisine. Attendees savored classic favorites like sausage and peppers and indulged in scrumptious cannoli from Gabriella Tomasello’s truck, where the shells were imported from Sicily.

The festival’s spirit was all about unity, bringing families and friends together to embrace their Italian roots. A significant moment came with the unveiling of the Christopher Columbus statue, ending a long-standing citywide debate about its fate. The statue’s preservation in Marconi Plaza was a triumph, thanks to determined city officials and community members.

The celebration also paid homage to the late Jerry Blavat, “The Geator with the Heater,” a beloved DJ in Philadelphia and a cherished grand marshal of the parade. His memory resonated throughout the event, embodying the heart and soul of South Philly and the city itself.