Dear Mr. Moretti
I recently read the interview you gave to Brunella Gaudio, the organizer of Italian Day on the Drive, and I would like to correct the information re the beginning of the event. I was the founder and organizer of Italian Market Day which started in June 1977. The reason for the festival was to let Vancouverites and visitors know that we had a very active Italian community on the Drive and to help the merchants market their products. I tried to find an organization or an individual that would organize the event but nobody came forward. I then decided that I would try to do it myself under the umbrella of Il Marco Polo newspaper.
It was a rainy day but people kept coming and enjoying the festival. We held several events and several authorities participated, including the Mayor of Vancouver. I did it on a voluntary basis and formed a committee of merchants who helped me. It was a humongous job but it was successful.
The City did not charge us expenses and they even installed on the Drive, free of charge, the brackets to hang the flags. They are still used today. The festival lasted until 1985. In 1981 I was presented with a gold medal by Petronio Olivieri on behalf of the Italian community and I continued to organize the event until 1983.
In 1984 and 1985 the event was overseen by the son of one of the owners of Manitoba Furniture but in 1986 he decided to retire because the costs charged by the City had become too high and he found the job too demanding. I was then the President of the Italian Cultural Centre Society and I was a Member of the Vancouver Centennial Commission and, to celebrate the Centennial, I had brought to the Centre Italian Week.
I therefore decided that the Week would start with the Italian Market instead of being the continuation of the festival on the Drive.
The event at the Centre was very successful even though on a smaller scale. As we did on the Drive, we continued to have a parade, from Nanaimo to Sloca, with the participation of our societies and several authorities, and held the market at the Centre. Italian Week continued and it has now become Italian Month.
The organization of the event on the Drive was not easy. We could not occupy the centre of the street and had to stay on the sidewalk. Liquor could only be sold inside the restaurants which were licensed.
Only non-profit organizations could sell wine and beer which had to be distributed by the members of the Abruzzesi Club from their coffee bar and these were just some of the obstacles.
Things have changed a great deal and it is also thanks to the work done by the committee of Italian Marker Day and the many interventions we made at City Hall. I am happy that the Day was started again and that it is being so successful. The above is just to let people know how it all started.
Have a good day on the Drive!
Founder and Organizer of Italian Market Day
June 5, 2017
Dear Mr. Moretti