East Hanover Italian American Club holds Columbus Day Dinner Dance

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Grand Marshal Chris Coccia with Friends, Family and Employees

EAST HANOVER — East Hanover Italian American Club (EHIAC) held its 15th Annual Columbus Day Parade Dinner Dance at Hanover Manor on Friday, October 11. The parade will be held on Sunday, October 13, beginning at 2:00 p.m.

This year the East Hanover Italian American Club celebrates its 36th anniversary. The founders of the club wanted to work for the betterment of their community, as well as promote our large Italian population. Over the last 36 years, the clubs mission has expanded. The philanthropic work includes a scholarship program at Hanover Park High School, and five years ago it expanded to Whippany Park High School. The scholarship funds are raised each year at the annual carnival at Lurker Park every May. The club also takes pride in helping those who are in need; as well as to support other community organizations that work toward the greater good. In 2017, EHIAC was instrumental in starting a bocce ball program in East Hanover.

2019 marks the 15th year that the club has sponsored the Morris County Columbus Day Parade in conjunction with the township of East Hanover. The Parade mission is to perpetuate the rich Italian heritage and culture. A comedy night was added six years ago and will be continued to support the parade.

This year, Chris Coccia was named Grand Marshal

Chris Coccia accepting the award for the 2019 Grand Marshal of the Morris County Columbus Day Parade

Chris was born and raised in Kearny, New Jersey. He Graduated from Queen of Peace school in 1989 and went on to Graduate from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After a few short years of commuting into Manhattan working as a chef, Chris became a licensed Realtor in 1994 and worked in the family business ever since.

Chris lived in several different places in New Jersey such as Northvale, Saddle Brook and Clifton before settling down in Florham Park in 2002. Chris is married to wife Michelle and in 2007 had their son Chase. Chase is currently in 7th grade and is an honor roll student at St. Vincent’s School in Madison.

Chris received his Real Estate Broker’s license in 1998 and began managing his first office shortly afterwards. He held the honor of being a Board of Director of the New Jersey MLS from the years 2004 to 2007. He also held the position of Treasurer of the Meadowlands Board of Realtors. He currently is on the board of Trustees for the North Central Jersey Association of Realtors as well as the New Jersey Association of Realtors.

Chris is presently very active in the East Hanover – Florham Park community. He is a proud member of the East Hanover Italian American Club and tries to support East Hanover and Park communities whenever called upon to do so.

Chris is currently the Broker/Owner of Coccia Real Estate Group, LLC a thriving Real Estate office that has grown to over 50 agents. He recently relocated his office to their brand new state of the art building located in the center of town at 435 Ridgedale Avenue. Chris looks forward to continuing his involvement in the community and whatever else the future may hold.

The 2019 Parade Princess is Valentina Ashley Marra

Valentina Ashley Marra with Superintendent of East Hanover Schools Natalee Vaccaro Barlett

Valentina is a fun loving six year old from East Hanover. She is currently a Kindergarten student at Frank J. Smith School. Valentina loves being a cheerleader and is part of the Florham Park-East Hanover Cheerleading Squad. She likes to sing, dance and visit Disney World with mom, Mari a her dad, Anthony, and her two-year-old brother, Anthony.

The parade is dedicated to the first Italian immigrants and all of the following generations. Family, friends and church carried them through even the hardest of times.

Entrepreneur of the Year: John Gunnello

Entrepreneur of the Year is John Gunnello

He was born and raised in Newark. John Gunnello came from a hardworking, modest, blue collar family. John’s father, Edward Gunnello was a lifelong employee for the City of Newark, who worked endless hours to earn an honest pay to provide for his family.

John’s mother, Phyllis, stayed home to take care of their children. John saw the financial struggle hi family endured and knew he had to do better, for everyone. Johns dreams and ambition stem from his father’s work ethics and unconditional love he had for his family. This is what made John the man he is today. At the age of nine, John grew up learning every aspect of the garbage industry. He ha fon memories and lifelong experiences with his extended family of which were pioneer o the waste trade. John’s Grandfather and Uncles showed him the ropes of the business of which John, years later turned into an Empire. The waste industry isn’t the only icon of his achievements. Johns uncanny business sense and perseverance has given him opportunities owning and investing in a wide variety of businesses, such as night club’s to restaurants to real estate.

These are only a few of his many grand business endeavors. Johns self-proclaimed greatest two achievements are his wife Carrie and his son Johnny. “Everything I do is for them, they are my tower of strength, I am truly blessed.”

Man of the Year: Anthony Iacullo, Esq.

Anthony Iacullo, Esq.

Anthony Iacullo, Esq. is a founding member of the law firm of Iacullo Martino, LLC. The law firm was founded in 1995 and prior to that, Anthony was an Assistant Prosecutor with
Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Hackensack. Since leaving the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office where Anthony handled hundreds of criminal cases representing the State of New Jersey in various matters ranging from drug cases to homicides, he has since form the firm of Iacullo Martino, LLC. Upon entering private practice, Anthony focused on criminal defense. As a private criminal defense attorney, Anthony has represented thousands of individuals on both the State and Federal levels. He has appeared in the Superior Court of New Jersey in all counties within the State and has handled Federal matters in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Connecticut and California to name a few.  He has argued before the NJ Appellate Division and the Supreme Court of New Jersey. He has also argued multiple cases before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Woman of the Year: Natalee Vaccaro Barlett

Natalee Vaccaro Barlett

Bartlett is into her third year as Superintendent of East Hanover Schools. Natalee is a school administrator with proven effective leadership in defining educational mission and vision and in achieving organizational growth through data-driven decision making. She is a dedicated leader with comprehensive knowledge of New Jersey district and school-level operations, management, and process improvements.

Natalee was born in Newark and raised in West Caldwell, she is the eldest daughter of Geralyn and Fred Vaccaro. Natalee moved to East Hanover in 2005. She is married to Bill Bartlett and will be celebrating their 20th year of marriage. They have three sons, Christopher Thomas and Will.

A graduate of Montclair State University, a Master’s degree from Caldwell University and an additional 30 plus credits from the University of Phoenix. Natalee began her career a Catholic School teacher, then moved through the ranks in the East Orange School District, Montclair School District and Bedminster School District, eventually coming “Home” to do the job she has passion for, educating children. She is viewed as an educational visionary in the educational field. Her ideals of ensuring the whole child is educated and ensuring the social and emotional needs of students and teachers are met are impactful. She shares this with many future administrators that has mentored from various colleges and Universities throughout the state. She has received and been nominated for many awards including the prestigious Friends of Education Award given by the Morris County teachers Union, MCEA. Natalee is a firm believer in giving back to her community. Her favorite charities are Arianna’ Angels and Halos for Angels. Both are organizations that help local residents and children. She is also vice President of the Sigma Delta Phi Alumni Association.

Athlete of the Year: Giuseppe Rossi

Giuseppe Rossi

Giuseppe Rossi is an Italian American professional footballer. Born in Teaneck he began his career with the Clifton Stallions in nearby Clifton. When he was 12, he moved to Italy to join the youth club Parma. When he was as 17, he signed his first professional contract with Manchester United. A couple month later, he made his debut and scored his first goal versus Sunderland in a Premier League match. In 2007, he signed with Spanish club Villarreal, where he became the highest leading goalscorer ever for the club. Giuseppe helped Villarreal qualify for the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Champions League. After five-and-a-half years with Villarreal, he returned to Italy, signing for Fiorentina in January 2013.

Giuseppe quickly became a fan favorite by scoring three goals versus arch rival Juventus. At the international level, Rossi represented Italy at the 2008 Summer Olympics, and at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. Along with Mario Balotelli and Daniele De Rossi, he is Italy’s all-time top scorer in the FIFA Confederations Cup, with two goals.

The East Hanover Italian American Club will sponsor the Family Fun Day at Lurker Park following the parade. Entertainment will include a petting zoo, face painting, balloon art, bounce castle, wrecking ball and other attractions for children beginning at 3:00 p.m. Food vendors and a live performance by The No Cover Band will round out the festivities.

The parade will feature eleven marching bands, social and civic organizations, antique cars and police and fire departments from all over Morris County.

“This is an outstanding group of honorees who serve as great role models for young people and demonstrate how hard work and family values are the backbone of what Italian Americans are all about,” said parade spokesman, William Agnellino.