Gasparino honored on Columbus Day

Columbus Day in Greenwich wasn’t just a chance for residents to show off some Italian pride in their heritage, it was also a time for the St. Lawrence Society to honor one of the town’s own.

Former teacher and legendary Board of Estimate and Taxation member Peter Gasparino was the guest of honor this year at the club for the Columbus Day celebration. First Selectman Peter Tesei called him “one of our favorite sons of Italian heritage” in Greenwich for all he had done as a teacher, a member of the finance board and in civic-minded groups like the Knights of Columbus and the Byram/Cos Cob Rotary.

At a ceremony Monday morning where Mr. Gasparino and St. Lawrence Society President Tod Laudonia raised the Italian flag outside of Town Hall for Columbus Day, Mr. Tesei declared Oct. 8 to be Pete Gasparino Day in Greenwich. And in a town where Mr. Gasparino’s outspoken Democratic views have rarely been shared by the majority party, he joked that he didn’t ever think the Republicans would do something like this for him.

In dedicating the day to him, Mr. Tesei urged all residents to “applaud and honor Peter for his dedication to the citizens of the town of Greenwich.”

This was the 25th celebration of Columbus Day at the St. Lawrence Club, and Monday night Mr. Gasparino was honored, as were others before him, at a packed dinner where his friends shared their best stories about him. One of those friends was state Rep. Fred Camillo (R-151st District), whose past with Mr. Gasparino goes all the way back to being a student of his in St. Mary’s High School, where he taught English and public speaking and theology for 20 years.

“He is truly one of the most beloved teachers and mentors we have in town,” Mr. Camillo told The Post. “Every student who heard about this has good wishes for him. When I think about my time at St. Mary’s, he’s the first thing that comes to mind.”

Mr. Laudonia said the choice of Mr. Gasparino for the annual honor was “an exciting one from our board” and added that as a teacher Mr. Gasparino “exemplifies the values our club was established to promote.”

Mr. Gasparino said he was proud to be noted for his contributions to the town and as a part of Italian culture.

“I always had a difficult time accepting praise, but I feel as Italian-Americans we’ve contributed so much to the world,” Mr. Gasparino said. “That’s my obligation. I want to be a part of that symbol.”

In addition to Mr. Tesei and Mr. Camillo, Selectman David Theis, state Reps. Livvy Floren (R-149th District) and Lile Gibbons (R-150th District) were on hand for the flag raising, as was U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a Greenwich resident.

Mr. Laudonia urged people to remember the sacrifices of American soldiers around the world that allowed everyone to gather on a sunny but chilly morning and celebrate Italian heritage among Americans.

“We honor our Italian ancestors each year by raising the flag,” Mr. Laudonia said. “This day is full of memories for all of us, but for most of us it points to the hard work of our parents and our grandparents. They worked without concern for self-fulfillment but worked to add to the greater good and, of course, to provide for their families.”

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