The zings at the inaugural Columbus Day Parade roast on Monday didn’t zap quite as crushingly as those at its St. Patrick’s Day counterpart in South Boston, but the breakfast still featured several zingers and it wholly entertained a sold-out crowd in the Beachmont VFW.
In fact, the event was such an immediate success that it appeared it would become an annual affair.
The hall was packed to the gills Monday morning, with standing room only available and seats hard to come by. There were local residents, political figures from neighboring cities as well as local officials, and statewide office holders. There was also a substantial turnout from the business community and the Revere Chamber of Commerce.
All of it pointed in one direction: the Columbus Day Parade is not dead yet – and in fact – may have been fully revived after Monday morning.
“We had to stop the Parade due to budget cuts several years ago, but as I ran for office last year and talked with people around the City, I found there was quite an appetite for the Parade and to bring it back,” said Mayor Dan Rizzo, who served very well as the emcee of the event. “It’s our goal now starting with this breakfast to bring back the Columbus Day Parade on this day starting in 2013.”
With a head table stacked with state office holders, two Congressmen and an impressive state legislative delegation, the speaking program began with Gail Huff – a former television news reporter and the wife of sitting U.S. Sen. Scott Brown.
“Scott and I really want to see the Parade come back to this community,” said Huff. “Honoring your heritage is very, very important.”
Huff was very cordial and didn’t drop any zings, but after she spoke, the gloves came off.
Congressman Ed Markey was the first to speak after Huff, and he dropped the first good zing at the expense of Revere Councillor John Correggio.
“The first time I ran for office, I ran against Revere’s Billy Reinstein,” said Markey. “I marched in the Columbus Day Parade and saw that Billy had a guy dressed up like Christopher Columbus marching with him down the street. He really had the pulse of the people on that. Afterward, I went over to shake hands with Columbus and tell him how unfair it was that he was marching with Billy. Columbus took off his costume and there he was – it was John Correggio playing Columbus, already campaigning for his seat.”
Markey also put in a word for Mayor Rizzo.
“Mayor Rizzo served four years in the Navy and apparently he had a very distinguished career there, which makes him the second greatest Italian sailor alongside Christopher Columbus,” he said.
Then he weaved in a little Red Sox humor, at the expense of recently canned manager Bobby Valentine.
“Mayor Rizzo is really about creating jobs here in Revere and he said he wants to make sure every Italian in Revere has a job,” said Markey. “So, I thought it was great having Bobby Valentine outside here parking cars. He was out on his bicycle and had three wrecks, but he was out there working.”
In parting, Markey – the local torchbearer for the national Democratic efforts – laid one on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is obviously now running for president.
Even the mention of Romney’s name brought on a light chorus of ‘boos’ and jeers from the decidedly Democratic crowd.
“I remember when Romney came to Revere for the first time,” said Markey. “He thought overriding a veto was when his driver came around the corner on Revere Street and hit that guy named Vito in front of the Soccorso Club. It’s unbelievable how far he’s come. Unbelievable.”
House Speaker Bob DeLeo – a seasoned veteran of the South Boston fete – also delivered his share of one-liners.
“I’m glad to see the Mayor is wearing a tie today,” said DeLeo. “He doesn’t often wear a tie and I’m glad he did today because he usually looks like a guy at Luberto’s Bakery.”
And then, “There are a lot of people who say I have moved on and cater to people on a statewide platform and have forgotten about the people who elected me and who supported me. Who could forget Revere’s former mayor Tom, um, Tom Jones. No wait. I mean Tom Brady. Well, let’s just move on.”
He also intimated that Christopher Columbus truly came to Revere before landing in the Caribbean in 1492.
“Did you know Columbus came to Revere first?” he asked the crowd. “He came to Revere Beach and was stunned by its beauty, but apparently he couldn’t land on Revere Beach because of the [Piping] Plovers.”
Then he left everyone with a little East Boston parade humor, alluding to the infamous seller of stolen items in Eastie’s Day Square.
“I love parades, especially the floats,” he said. “You have the Chamber, the Knights of Columbus and the Sons of Italy; and then you have ‘Hot Gus’ selling TVs and appliances in the back of his truck. I guess that’s an East Boston joke.”
Yet it was his colleague in the House – Revere Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein – who stole the show.
“This is a roast and we decided we’re going big or going home,” Reinstein said at the outset.
“I love Revere and I would never leave Revere,” she began. “In fact, the day I leave Revere would be the day that you would see Eddie O’Hara in a conductor’s hat steering an Ethanol train through the city.”
Then, she also hopped on the Correggio-bashing train.
“This Columbus Day Parade is a lot like Councillor Correggio,” she said. “It didn’t have enough support to continue, but somehow it keeps coming back.”
Then, with dramatic pause, Reinstein hushed the crowd and told them she had a special announcement to read.
“Wait, wait, ok, I have an important announcement here,” she said, as she pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket. “Stat Smith will be having an after-party at his apartment buildings. He says to get there early because it’s going to be very crowded.”
Reinstein also played on Sen. Brown’s TV commercial where he is folding laundry, with Reinstein bringing out a laundry basket with her laundry in it for Huff to fold – though at the last minute she pulled out an Elizabeth Warren campaign shirt and held it high over Huff.
Then she indicated that she had solved the traffic problems that are expected in Revere if a casino and soccer stadium development materializes. Taking out a large poster board, she revealed a map of Italy that was labeled with all of Revere’s various neighborhoods.
“There’s going to be a lot of congestion in North Revere, and we’ll just move them down through Suffolk Downs, where they’ll take a ferry over to Beachmont,” she said. “When they’ve lost all their money, we’re going to boot them out from the Point of Pines.”
OTHERS OF NOTE
Other speakers on Monday morning included State Treasurer Steve Grossman, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, Sen. Anthony Petruccelli and Congressman Michael Capuano. It was important to note that Sen. John Kerry and Senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren were invited, but could not attend.
Mayor Tom Menino and State Sen. Jack Hart were on the agenda to attend and speak, but opted out apparently at the last minute.
Other memorable stingers included:
•Congressman Capuano (of Somerville), “My memories and thoughts of Revere are long and deep. I remember with great fondness the fights after the football game, the fights after the basketball game, and the fights after Little League games.”
•Mayor Rizzo, “Revere today is a city of immigrants and of great diversity with people who come from all over the world, but for many, many years a lot of people came here from East Boston. Many did, but not all did. Some from Eastie went to Bridgewater, Walpole, Shirley and Framingham.”
•Capuano again, “I remember coming to Revere to steal cars and I remember you coming to Somerville to steal cars. This is a roast right? I’m only kidding. I didn’t admit to nothin’. I didn’t see anything.”
•Auditor Bump, “I’d like to share my favorite Parade memories with you. The first one I share with a little bit of trepidation. I say that because it was handed down to me by and grandparents and we all know how treacherous it is to trust anything grandparents have told you about the past, right Gail?”
•Sen. Petruccelli, “Mayor Menino was scheduled to come this morning. I’m not exactly sure why he didn’t come. He called me and told me he had an emergency, last minute meeting with Bob Kraft and Steve Wynn. I’m not sure what that’s all about.”
•Capuano, “Hey, I really just wanted to be able to come to breakfast with a bunch of people who can say my name correctly.”
•Grossman, to conclude, “I know I will be marching in this parade next year, and I will be proud to do it.”