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 Joseph Leone Introna has been chosen to serve as the Grand Marshal for this year's Columbus Day Parade to be held on Sunday, October 7, 2012. This year marks the Twenty-first edition of this popular event.
"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 Parade Chairman Michael Blandina. "After thoroughly reviewing and considering all the candidates I am proud to say that we have chosen Joseph Leone Introna as the Grand Marshal for this years Twenty-first Annual Event.
Joseph Leone Introna was born in August 1975 in Weehawken, NJ. His parents are Ralph Introna and Linda Berardo. It was with weekend visits to his grandparents, Pasquale and Vincenza Introna, that Joe realized his affinity for cooking and developed a passion for the art of bread baking. In his grandmother's kitchen Joe would pay close attention to her preparation of traditional Italian dishes, as she would teach him about his culture and heritage.
Joe Leone attended the Ocean County Vocational/Technical Schools Culinary Arts Program. He was then accepted into the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York where he graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Culinary Arts. He then interned and worked for the Marriott Marquis in New York and Jon Anthony's in the New Jersey area before opening Joe Leone's Italian Specialty Foods in Pt. Pleasant Beach, New Jersey on June 2, 1997. He also opened a satellite store, Joe Leone's Gastronomia, in Sea Girt, on June 9, 2008.
Joe's business successes have enabled him to increasingly commit time, money and energy to giving back to the community. His business is in step with his altruistic philosophy and donates items and services to local charitable and educational organizations on a daily basis. Joe was honored for his civic contributions and dedication to his local community as the 2004 Man of the Year by the Pt. Pleasant Beach chapter of UNICO National, an American-Italian organization whose motto is "Service above self." As a major contributor and board member to The Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties' Emergency Food Program, Joe Leone's donates meals and food products, which the Food Bank then distributes to over 270 charitable programs throughout both counties. Immediately following the earthquake of 2009 that struck the Abruzzo Region of Italy, Joe arranged an impromptu Italian Festival in front of the Pt. Pleasant Beach retail store. The event raised over $25,000 with which Joe personally traveled to L'Aquila, Italy with van loads of daily necessities and supplies for survivors and relief workers. He currently is still raising funds for an orphanage, in L'Aquila. To this day there are 23 children and 10 nuns residing at the orphanage. These children lost all members of their family in the earthquake. The Journey of Hope documentary which has been shown nationally on the Documentary Channel and on PBS, journals Joe Leone's trip to L'Aquila after the earthquake.
Joe Leone has been happily married to his bride, Jennifer since 1999. He is a devoted father to his four children, Joseph, Jr., Bella Rose, Luciano, and Antonina.
"Joseph Leone Introna stood out among this year's nominees because of the excellence he has achieved in his career and his lifelong service to his community, both here and in Italy," said Screening Committee Chairwoman Carol Tramutola. "We are confident that this extraordinary man will uphold the fine tradition established by his predecessors. I am looking forward to having Joseph lead our Twenty-first Parade and serve as our representative this year."
Joseph Leone Introna's selection as Grand Marshal will be celebrated at the Annual Grand Marshal Dinner Dance at the Crystal Point Yacht Club on Thursday, June 21, 2012. We will also be presenting Hank and Phyllis Shindle with our service award. Hank is one of our hardest working committee members. He assists with the set up of both the parade and festival. Additionally, he is on the promotions committee, assists with marshaling the parade and serves as the committees Sergeant at Arms. Phyllis Shindle is the committees long time Band Chairwoman. She is also the committee Recording Secretary and assists the Parade Chairman with many special projects throughout the year. "Our annual Dinner Dance is traditionally the highlight of our pre-parade festivities," said Chairman Blandina. "I encourage anyone who wants to have a good time and honor these three fine individuals from Ocean County to attend this Dinner Dance."
Anyone interested in attending the Dinner Dance, placing and 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 Michael Blandina at 732-477-6507.