500 Christopher Columbus Boulevard
P.O. Box 1492, Seaside Heights, NJ 08751
**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
Brick Township, NJ - The Ocean County Columbus Day Parade Committee is proud to announce that we have chosen our Chairman Michael A. Blandina to serve as the Grand Marshal for this 25th Anniversary Celebration. Several individuals including past grand marshals have made this recommendation to the search committee. We feel that after 25 years he is definitely deserving of this honor because no one has given more to the success of these events celebrating Italian Heritage and Culture. This year’s Columbus Day Parade will be held on Sunday, October 9, 2016. The three-day Italian Festival begins on Friday, October 7, 2016.
"Every year we are faced with the difficult task of selecting one person from the many deserving candidates to serve as the ceremonial leader of our Parade and Italian Festival," said Screening Committee Chair Phyllis Shindle. "After thoroughly reviewing and considering all the candidates this year, the screening committee felt that although several terrific nomination were submitted it was time for us to have Michael as Grand Marshal. His leadership over the past 25 years and his community involvement, especially his ties to the Italian community through-out the county and state, stood out among this years nominees," Shindle added.
Michael was born on December 13, 1963 in Englewood, New Jersey. He lived in Bergen County, New Jersey until 1970. In August of that year along with his parents Josephine, Tony and his younger sister Toni Maria they moved to Brick Township. He graduated from Brick Township High School in 1982 and Ocean County College in May of 1986. Even during his early years he was involved with community projects such as the restoration of the Gravelly Graveyard off Princeton Avenue, in Brick Township.
In January of 1992 at the request of those planning a parade and Italian Festival to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, Michael joined the committee. For the first two years his main function was parade bands, which were participating in the parade and raising funding to pay for them. Two years later at the request of several committee members he became chairman of the parade committee, overseeing the annual parade and festival. Over the past 25 years he continually strived to make each years’ parade and festival better than the last. He has also worked on other projects promoting Italian Heritage and Culture with the New Jersey Italian and Italian American Heritage Commission. Additionally, for the past several years he has chaired a committee of Ocean and Monmouth County Italian American Clubs, commonly know as the Italian President’s Council. They meet 5 times a year and discuss current issues facing Italian Americans.
"Michael stood out among this year’s nominees because of the excellence he has achieved in his career and his lifelong service to his community. Especially for his 25 years of dedicated service and effort on behalf of Ocean Counties Columbus Day Parade and Italian Festival. Additionally, for his involvement within the Italian Community through-out the state," said Paul Perillo, another screening committee member. "We are confident that this extraordinary man will uphold the fine tradition established by his predecessors. I am looking forward to having Michael lead our Twenty-fifth anniversary celebration as Grand Marshal."
Michael’s community involvement included working for the Township of Brick. From December 1983 until June of 2007 he worked in several capacities as requested by the Township’s Administration. Those positions included as a Special Police Officer, Communications Operator, positions within the Tax Assessor’s Office and positions within the Township’s Administration Department. In 2007 he was appointed by the State of New Jersey, Manager of the MVC office located in Lakewood, where he served until November of 2010. Upon leaving that position he started a business dealing with Party Planning and Events. That business known as Total Package Party Planning and Events LLC, is still in operation today.
Over the years he has been an active member of the Ocean County Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, The Jersey Shore Boy Scouts Council Committee for "The Good Turn Award", Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore Awards Reception Committee, Brick Township Municipal Alliance Committee and Alcohol Drug Abuse and Youth Services, Brick Lions Club and Brick Township Property Maintenance Board. Even though Michael doesn’t still serve on all of the above committees they still hold special place in his heart and represent his contributions to the community. For his contributions Michael has been recognized and honored over the years by the Columbia Civic League, Heritage Festival Ball Committee, Brick UNICO Chapter and most recently in 2014 by the Brick Township Chamber of Commerce as "Distinguished Community Partner."
Please join us as we celebrate the 25th Anniversary, the past and future successes of the Ocean County Columbus Day Parade and Italian Festival and also honor Michael A. Blandina’s selection as our 2016 Grand Marshal at our Annual Grand Marshal Dinner Dance. This special event will take place on Thursday June 16, 2016 at the Crystal Point Yacht Club, Route 70, Point Pleasant, New Jersey beginning at 6:30 pm. To commemorate the dinner dance and the selection of Michael as Grand Marshal, we will publish a souvenir ad journal that will be distributed at our annual dinner dance and other events leading up to the parade. We invite you to take this opportunity to advertise your business, profession or add your congratulatory message to Michael in the journal.
Anyone interested in attending the Dinner Dance, placing an ad in the ad journal, sponsoring the event, joining the Parade Committee, or wishing any other information regarding this year’s Parade and Italian Festival and accompanying events, may contact Carol at 732 267-9583 or e-mail the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.