Food vendors will fill the streets of downtown Cape Coral today, offering some Italian favorites following the popular Columbus Day Parade.
The parade will begin at 3 p.m. at Southeast 15th Avenue and travel west on Southeast 47th Terrace to Southeast 10th place.
Linda Biondi, event chair for the parade and the festival, said the parade will have 53 or 54 units this year, including a few new additions. Those include a little tugboat, Firefighters Fighting Cancer, as well as the Basset Hound Social, Corvette Club, The Hot Chili Rods, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts
The theme of the parade changes every year. This year the theme is "Children are the Future" and Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral President Sam Huber will be the grand marshal.
The Italian Food Fest, which will feature 38 vendors, will begin at 4 p.m.
Biondi said the food offerings will include sausage and peppers, pizza, zeppoles, cannolis, linguini and clam sauce, fire shrimp, lasagna and tripe.
Pizza and spaghetti eating contests will be held during the festivities as well. Individuals will have to consume the most pizza for that contest at 5:15 p.m. or eat spaghetti with their hands instead of utensils for the other contest at 6:30 p.m.
In addition to the food, there will also be live entertainment by DJ Z-Bop with Vinnie B as MC, the Lisa Meyer Dancers, The Calendar Girls and the Del Prados after the parade ends. At 7:30 p.m. Tenor Maurice (Maurizio) LoMonaco will perform a free concert for all those in attendance.
"This is the largest Columbus Day Parade and Italian Festival in southwest Florida and the Sons of Italy are happy to once again be able to host this event," Biondi said. "Let's hope the weather stays as beautiful as it's been and we'll have the best festival ever."
Partial proceeds from the event will benefit the American Cancer Society, Alzheimer's, Cooley's Anemia Foundations and the Order of Sons of Italy in America College Scholarship.