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Italian Parades, Festivals and More in New Orleans

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Italian, mostly Sicilian, heritage is celebrated with Italian Parades, Festivals, Altars and More in New Orleans and the region each year, mostly in March.

There's a whole new parade and celebration season in March in New Orleans with the Italian events and the Irish St. Patrick parades and parties. There's even a long-time Irish-Italian parade combining both.

St. Joseph Day, which is March 19th, is celebrated with St. Joseph Altars of traditional and symbolic food inside churchs, school, private homes, and other locales all over the city and suburbs. Be sure to stop by one of these Catholic Italian altars for your lucky bean and bag of fig cookies and other goodies.

1. St. Joseph Marching Parade

The New Orleans Italian American Marching Club has been holding a St. Joseph parade for over four decades on its traditional route through the French Quarter after it starts out from the site of its pre-parade party on Convention Center Blvd at Lafayette Street. In 2012, the Pre-Parade party is at 3 p.m. and the parade rolls at 6:30 p.m. on March 10, n2012.

2. Irish - Italian Parade

I've had out-of-towners express amazement that there's a joint Irish and Italian parade. It's a natural to locals - a double-dose of ethnic fun in New Orleans. In fact the motto for the Louisiana Irish-Italian Organization is "It's About Time", which was the reaction to the idea of the group by one of its founders. The popular bi-ethnic full-fledged parade began in 1983 in the neighborhoods of Kenner and Metairie. It now parades on the Metairie Veterans-centric route. The 2012 Irish-Italian parade rolls at noon in Metairie on March 18th.

3. Festa Italiana in Rivertown

The Festa Italiana features live music, Italian food from local restaurants, rides, local crafts, displays, and genealogical experts if you are interested in your family tree or heritage. The Kenner Italian Heritage Foundation hosts the outdoor Festa in Kenner's historic Rivertown, which also hosted the Deutsches Haus Oktoberfest which was outside for the first time this year. Visit the Festa event's Facebook page for more information.

In 2012, the Festa Italiana will be held Friday, March 30th through April 1st. Adult entrance fee is $5; kids 12 years and under are free and must be accompanied by an adult.

On March 31st, the Festa Italiana will also host a "Sunset Levee Run", a two-mile run/walk, at 6 p.m. The $20 fee includes free admittance to the Festa, food & drink tickets, and a t-shirt.

4. Irish-Italian-Islenos Parade in St. Bernard

Going one better than the Irish-Italian parade, St. Bernard Parish hosts a big community parade celebrating the heritage of three ethnic groups - the Irish, the Italians, and the Islenos, early settlers in St. Bernard from the Canary Islands.

Apparently the ethnic March parade schedule is getting crowded. The 2012 St Bernard parade is set for 11 a.m. on April 1st - April Fool's Day, yet another reason to celebrate.

5. Independence Sicilian Heritage Festival

Take an easy road trip from New Orleans to the town of Independence, Louisiana for the annual Sicilian Heritage Festival, a three day weekend event featuring live entertainment. And lots of Italian food, Sicilian style of course, along with carnival rides, other attractions, and food events like a Meatball Throwing contest and Spaghetti Eating Contest. It's worth the drive. In 2012, the festival is Friday, March 9th - Sunday, March 11th

6. Bocce Club League

You don't have to be a member of the Bocce Club of Greater New Orleans to participate in its Bocce league play. And even if you don't play Bocce, you may want to check out the group's Spaghetti Dinners.

7. Piazza d'Italia

It's a Italian park with neo-modern-classical features in the middle of the CBD in New Orlean located on a plot between Poydras and Lafayette Streets just a couple of blocks toward the river from Magazine Street. In 2012, a unique Sophia Loren statue was added for the Prospect 2 art event
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