By Patti Pagni

For The Elmhurst Independent

 

Elmhurst resident Natalie DiCianni (center) prepares to ride the Columbus Day Queen and her Court float at the parade start at State Street and Wacker Drive in Chicago. DiCianni was selected Queen this past summer after competing in a pageant sponsored by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans. Her proud father is former Elmhurst Mayor and DuPage County Board member Pete DiCianni. Full story inside.

 

Just 23 years ago, Natalie DiCianni’s dad proudly announced the arrival of his and his wife Rose’s first-born child to friends and family. On Monday, Oct. 14, during Chicago’s Columbus Day parade, now-DuPage County Board member Pete DiCianni proudly made another announcement. This time, it was that Natalie had been crowned Queen of the 2019 Columbus Day parade.

“The parade was a beautiful day,” Natalie said. “My family was there…and having my dad announce me at the parade was a happy experience that I will take with me through the rest of my life.”

Her beaming dad Pete said announcing his daughter was “one of the proudest moments” of his life.

“I had a great time announcing, in my humble opinion, the prettiest Columbus Day Queen ever – Natalie Rose DiCianni,” he said.

Natalie was named queen by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, an organization formed in 1952 that sponsors the parade, and according to its website, “serves as a congress for Chicagoland Italian American organizations and a focal point for the community.”

“I have always been present [in the Italian American community] through my father’s association with various organizations, but I wanted to transition into a name of my own,” Natalie said.

After she submitted an initial application to the JCCIA, Natalie participated in a pageant, which included an interview and questions about “heritage and social issues.”

“I participated in the pageant with a group of remarkable young women from the community…and we were all asked one question the same: ‘Why should we celebrate Columbus Day?’” she said. “When my ancestors came to America, they went through hardship and discrimination, and persevered. This day is a day to celebrate them, and it was an honor to be able to represent them along with others who experienced the same.”

ABC Channel 7 in Chicago broadcast the parade, which marked its 66th anniversary this year. More than 150 bands, floats and marching groups of all ethnicities participated. Prior to the parade, a Mass at the Shrine of our Lady of Pompeii was celebrated. A reception followed the parade festivities.

As 2019’s Columbus Day Queen, Natalie will attend various events where she will speak about her experiences as a young Italian American and, as she puts it, “the importance of our culture.

“In the future I hope to one day be politically involved and being Columbus Day Queen is a great opportunity to dip my feet in the water. Public speaking is a difficult obstacle for me,” she said. “That being said, being queen is a growing experience for me, and in the future, even if I don’t pursue politics, my role as Columbus Day Queen forced me to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and that is important for people of my generation.”

Congratulations, Natalie!

 

 

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