NYC Mayor Eric Adams hosts Italian Heritage Celebration
Italian American Museum Founder and President, Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa receives citation for contributions to Italian American community
Following is the transcript of the Mayor’s remarks at this event.
First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo: Thank you. Good evening, everyone. I’m so privileged and honored to be here today. I just want to give you a little idea of what kind of a friend our mayor is to the Italian American community. I had the privilege of being one of the grand marshalls for the Brooklyn Columbus Day Parade. And so as we’re winding down, the mayor showed up. And I looked at him and I said, wow, thank you so much for coming. He said, Lorraine, I’m here every year. He is a true friend of the Italian American community, and I want to take the moment to introduce our mayor, Eric Adams.
Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you, Lorraine. One of the saddest days of my life, and I can remember like it was yesterday, my mother sat me down. She says, “Baby, I need to be honest with you. You’re not Sicilian.” (Laughter.) This community, you do the analysis. You do the analysis. I got more votes from the Italian American community than any candidate that was running. And the friendship over the years of my Italian American New Yorkers and beyond — the friendships have been so deep. Look at Arthur over there. I know Rosanna is somewhere in the crowd. You think about my Chief of Staff Frank Carone, Italian; my first deputy mayor, Lorraine Grillo, Italian; you think about Ingrid Martin who wants to be Italian; Peter Valone. I can go through the room. And you are not just knowledgeable people in the city, you have been deep friends.
And during the most difficult times of my time as borough president, of my times in office, you have just sent me communications. You have stood by me because good friends walk in the room when others walk out. And this community has continuously walked in the room. You have walked in the room over, and over, and over again. And just stated that, Eric, we are with you. Because we have a commonality. We believe in families. We believe in business. We believe in a safe city. We believe in protecting innocent people. This is not a difficult relationship that we have developed, because we are eye to eye on what’s expected in our city and what we expected from our city.
And when we come here under this big tent, we are saying that we can live under a big tent. That is why this celebration was so important. That is why I enjoyed every moment of walking up Fifth Avenue, celebrating this rich heritage. And you are not new. You didn’t just discover New York City. The first person that occupied Gracie Mansion was one of the greatest mayors we had in history, Mayor LaGuardia. Blue collar, hardworking. Every time I think of what type of mayor I want to be, I think about his commitment and dedication to everyday New Yorkers. And how to create the city that we wanted to be.
But let me say this to you, and I told the group the other day. Every night I make an entry in my journal. Think about this for a moment. If the only entries I made in my journal was what was bad that happened to me, then I would define myself by the worst parts of my day. But I write the totality of my day. And overwhelmingly, my day is filled with good moments and great things, even in the small amount of things that could have been better. We can’t define our city by its darkest moments. We have to define our city by our great moments.
Yes, we must deal with the six felony crimes that happen on our subway every day, but we have to celebrate the 3.5 million people that ride that subway every day and get to their place of destination with no problems at all. If you take the worst crime and highlight it, then you are defining our entire transportation system. And that is not who we are. Yes, we have to deal with those number of people who are carrying guns and make sure they go to jail and stay in jail. But you got 8.8 million people in the city that’s not carrying a gun. That’s opening shops, that makes sure business goes on. We got to celebrate that 91 percent of the hotel occupancies are back up and operating. We lead the 25 major markets.
New York is not coming back, New York is back. You got to go to Times Square at night and walk through the thousands of people that come from all over the globe and say they want to experience New York City. The 175,000 jobs that we started since January, back to the city. Leading the tech industry, all that we are doing, we got to celebrate New York. And we have to understand that in a city of this size, yes, we have a scar on our face, but remember we have a face. And if you draw my portrait, don’t draw it emphasizing the scar, draw it emphasizing the face.
New York is still the greatest city on the globe, period. And the reason it is because we have the largest Italian American community in New York City. From Little Italy to the Verrazzano Bridge, to building a subway system, to putting on a police uniform and protecting our city. To the judges, to the lawyers, to the bar associations. Everywhere you look and you find success, you find the Italian American community. Your contribution to the city is amazing throughout the years. And I personally thank you. I thank you because of the foundation of this community.
I was out in Queens when I was running for office, and I stopped at a small deli in Queens called Beechhurst. Small Italian deli — still has the sausages hanging from the ceiling. Generations, first, and second, and third generation working inside the deli. And you just saw that family appeal. Or when I go out and sit down and we have dinner together. And sit around the table and we hear the generations of families and really embracing the love of the family and the grandmothers and the mothers.
You are the foundation of our city, and I thank you for your contribution and what you represent to the City of New York. We have a lot to do, we have a lot to overcome. But I know this city and you know this city. And you know that we’re resilient, well invincible. This is New York. And the way goes New York, will go the entire country. The country depends on the success of New York City. And as we move through these next few months, and continue to wrestle back the city that we know and we love, I need you more than ever. Because you will set the tone of the certainty and the resiliency of our city. I know that. And so I thank you as we celebrate the rich heritage of the Italian American community. Let’s continue to lift it up. Let’s continue to show the greatness of our city. Thank you very, very much.
Banner Image: On October 5, 2023, NYC Mayor Eric Adams presented citations to Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa, Donald T. DeCarlo, Esq. and Angelo Vivolo during the annual Italian American Heritage Celebration at Gracie Mansion in New York City.
Pictured (left to right): Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar; Diane Savino, Senior Advisor to the Mayor; Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa, Founder and President of the Italian American Museum; Donald T. DeCarlo, Esq.; Angelo Vivolo, Columbus Citizens Foundation Board of Governors and President of the Columbus Heritage Coalition; Min. Plen. Fabrizio Di Michele, Consul General of Italy in New York; James Otto, NYC Commissioner, Department of Buildings and Anthony Iuliano, NYC Mayor’s Office, Deputy Commissioner of Operations. Image Credit – Cav. Amb. Josephine Maietta