KINGSTON–A celebrated basketball coach, bank president and the longest-serving county clerk in state history have been selected by the Ulster County Italian American Foundation as the top Italian-Americans of the year and will be feted at the annual waterfront festival on Oct. 7.
Les Lombardi, the legendary high school and college basketball coach who was named a MAAC honoree for the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame, was picked as the Italian-American “Signore of the Year.”
Cheryl Bowers, chief executive officer and president of Rondout Savings Bank, has been named the Italian-American “Signora of the Year.” Bowers, whose maiden name is Perpetua, is the first female to serve as president at the 150-year-old community bank.
Albert Spada, one of the county’s most influential public officials who served as county clerk for 39 years, was picked for the Italian-American Lifetime Achievement Award.
The recipients will be publicly honored during the Italian Festival’s opening ceremony at 11 a.m. at T.R. Gallo Park. The daylong festival runs through 7 p.m.
Tony Marmo, president of the Ulster County Italian American Foundation, said all three honorees have made an impact locally.
“Les is a great example of hard work and dedication to others in all he does. His body of work for the community and his sports accomplishments are unparalleled in our community,” Marmo said.
After an 18-year basketball coaching career that included establishing successful programs at every level from youth to Division II college, Lombardi began heading up “The Rock” team at Anaconda Sports.
He later founded the international exchange program known as Hoops Across the Ocean, which brought teams from Ireland and China to Kingston to play against the John A. Coleman basketball team.
“He approaches all of his interactions with professionalism, gentleness and respect for others,” Marmo said. “He brought those qualities to the UCIAF and had an immediate impact on helping to create great cultural programs and activities for our members. His creative and organizational skills have enabled our foundation to continue to grow and prosper.”
Bowers also has earned her place in local history, Marmo said.
“Cheryl is an outstanding community servant and well deserving of the 2018 ‘Signora of the Year.’ She leads Rondout Savings Bank with strong business acumen and compassion for her customers and staff.
In January, Bowers became the bank’s 14th and first female president, succeeding James Davenport.
The Kingston native holds a leadership certificate from the Wharton Business School and is a high-honors graduate from the American Bankers Association Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania. Bowers also is active in the New York Bankers Association Women’s Leadership Conference.
She has served as past board chair of the Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce and continues to volunteer on the boards of the Kingston Boys and Girls Club, Kingston Lions Club, SUNY Ulster Foundation and Vassar Brothers Medical Center.
“As the first female president and CEO of Rondout Savings Bank, she is role model for many who aspire to lead and succeed,” Marmo said. “Her Italian roots have given her a strong sense of sustaining traditions in her personal life, as well as the community she serves.”
This is the first year festival organizers are recognizing someone for lifetime achievement. Marmo said Spada was an easy pick.
“Albert has been a dedicated community servant for more than 50 years. As the longest-serving county clerk in the history of Ulster County, he has assisted countless residents and businesses in making Ulster County a great place to live and work,” Marmo said.
Spada, a Glasco native, served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, attaining the rank of staff sergeant.
He began his political career working as legislative assistants to state Assemblyman Kenneth Wilson and state Sen. Ogden Bush.
Spada was appointed deputy county clerk in 1962 and was first elected to that office in 1966. At the time, the 34-year-old Spada was the youngest county clerk in the state. He was re-elected 11 times and retired in 2005.
Over the years, the now 86-year-old Spada has served on various boards and won multiple honors for public service.
“His humble Italian roots have given him the ability to serve others and go above and beyond what was necessary to help others,” Marmo said. “His support of the Italian community in Ulster County is unparalleled over the years.”
This marks the festival’s 11th year and fourth year that it is being presented by the nonprofit Ulster County Italian American Foundation. In the past, it had been organized by area restaurants and known as the Taste of Italy festival.
The festival, which celebrates both the Italian heritage and Italian-American community in Ulster County, typically brings out thousands to enjoy top-notch entertainment, spaghetti-eating and pizza-tossing contests, wine tastings, storytelling, ethnic dance and, of course, food. More than 40 vendors will be on hand, selling Italian-themed food and goods.
Entertainers scheduled for the main stage include Hotrod, Roberto Milanese and Angela Bruno, Vanessa Racci, Andrew Hoben, Steven Maglio and the Michael Dell Orchestra.
Additionally, street performances will take place throughout the afternoon, including the Vanaver Caravan and the Tarantella dancers; fire-breather Corey Glover; Earl Pardini and Friends; and Darryl Bielski, known as the “Balloon Man.”
While Italians are the fifth largest ethnic group in the United States, they represent the largest group in Ulster County, according to Marmo, who said the goal of the foundation is to preserve and promote the Italian heritage while helping the community with charitable giving.
The festival is free and takes place rain or shine.
2018 UCIAF ITALIAN FESTIVAL OVERVIEW
OPENING CEREMONIES- 11:15 am
- Welcome by Co-Chairs – Anna Brett and Deb Tampone
- Introduce Andrew Hoben – American/Italian Anthems – Anna Brett
- Introduce – Tony Marmo – Anna Brett
- Introduce UCIAF Board Members/Festival Committee – Tony Marmo
- Introduce elected officials – Anna Brett
- Announce – Signore/Signore/Lifetime Achievement Award – to be done at 4:00 pm – Tony Marmo
- Introduce former Signore/Signora – Tony Marmo
- Presentation of Plaque to Anthony and Deb Tampone – Anna Brett
- Introduce MC – Van Ritshie – Tony Marmo
MAIN STAGE ENTERTAINMENT
- 11:30 am – 12:45 pm – HotRod
- 1:00 – 2:15 pm – Roberto Milanese and Angela Bruno
- 2:45 – 4:00 pm – Vanessa Racci
- 4:15 – 5:00 pm – Andrew Hoben
- 5:30 pm – Close – Steve Maglio/Michael Dell Orchestra
MARITIME BARN PERFORMERS
- 12:00 pm – Dan Logan, The Reluctant Psychic
- 12:30 pm – Steve Charney & his dummy Harry
- 1:00 pm – Karen Pillsworth, Storyteller
- 1:30 pm – Mike Simon – Frederick Wilman & Sons Folonari Wine Tasting
- 2:30 pm – Bruce Sconzo/Pete Santora
- 3:00 pm – Shaut Family Band with guest singers Roseann Sureda and Nicholas Glosque
- 4:00 pm – Gus Mancini
- Vanaver Caravan & The Tarantella Dancers – 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm
In front of Mariner’s Harbor
- Firebreather Corey Glover – 3:30 pm and 7:00 pm – Main Stage
- Earl Pardini a Friends – Acoustic Artists
- Darryl Bielski – by Children’s Tent??
OTHER ATTRACTIONS THROUGHOUT THE FESTIVAL
- Pasta/Macaroni Voting Contest at UCIAF Tent
- UCIAF – t-shirts, pins, flags and wristbands – UCIAF Tent
- T-Shirts – UCIAF Membership Tent
- Spaghetti eating Contest – 2:15 pm – by Gazebo – register at Children’s Tent
- Pizza tossing demonstration – Children’s Tent
- Raffle tickets – at the Gazebo – includes 50” flat screen TV, mountain bike, Lottery Board ($350 worth of tickets)and Italian Basket to benefit the Cancer Program at Health Alliance
PARKING – FREE CITY OF KINGSTON SHUTTLES FROM:
- Thomas Street parking lot opposite Frank Guido’s Little Italy
- Herzogs Plaza – to the right of Hannafords
- Kingston Point Beach – handicapped access
- Also, golf carts for senior citizens and handicapped will be available