In an open letter to the community on Syracuse.com, Mayor Walsh welcomed the return of Festa Italiana outside City Hall
By Mayor Ben Walsh, City of Syracuse
At lunchtime Friday, the smell of Italian cuisine will begin wafting inside City Hall. It will be a welcome reminder that Festa Italiana returns to the intersection of Washington and Montgomery streets this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Festa is one of Syracuse’s most loved cultural festivals. I am excited this great tradition is back again this year after a COVID-19 hiatus in 2020.
Italian Americans are an integral part of the rich and diverse culture that makes Syracuse a great place to live. Italian immigrants began arriving in this nation in the late 1800s. Many were drawn to Syracuse by the opportunities available in the growing city. They worked on important projects that helped fuel Syracuse’s continued ascent. Italian Americans overcame prejudice and persecution to emerge as strong and effective leaders across all sectors of our community.
Syracuse’s Italian American community deserves our deepest gratitude. It is their story that I want to see more effectively and forever presented in Columbus Circle.
Festa Italiana and the approaching Columbus Day holiday is the time to repeat the commitment I made one year ago: the center of the circle will remain the site of a permanent tribute to local Italian American heritage. The future design, theme and message will be created with the input of Italian Americans from Syracuse. A volunteer task force has already begun this work and will ensure it better represents the local Italian American story.
The circle will be a key part of a new Heritage Park, which will be a safe and welcoming place for all in our community. The area is envisioned to become a larger heritage and education site that celebrates the contributions of our richly diverse communities and their resilience to oppression. A Heritage Park Advisory Commission comprised of members of the Onondaga Nation and people representing Black and Brown Americans, New Americans, Italian Americans and other stakeholders is providing input and guidance.
My appreciation for Syracuse’s Italian American community is deep and genuine. I urge all in our community to join the celebration of Italian American culture at Festa Italiana. Enjoy great food and entertainment and the welcome of warm and loving members of a community that deserves our admiration and respect.