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The Columbus Lodge #2143 celebrates its 45th birthday on Feb. 16. On that fabled date in 1964, the lodge was instituted as a member of the Order Sons of Italy in America. Dominick Baranello and P. Vincent Landi (the lodge's first president) and Judge Angelo Roncallo were the three founding members of the lodge. Three hundred and twenty-eight men were sworn in at the ceremony that took place at the Massapequa Elks Club.

By June, the Columbus Lodge was the largest in New York State and by September the membership grew to more than 600 members. During October, the lodge participated in the first Columbus Day Parade ever held in Nassau County. With 80 new members being installed the total eclipsed 800. October also marked the month the lodge went into contract to buy their future (and current) home located on Boundary Avenue in South Farmingdale.

Building Chairman John Miranda launched a capital campaign project known as the "Building Bond Drive" in order to raise the money for the purchase of the property. According to inaugural-year member Pete Gisonda (membership #396), "The idea was to have each member purchase at least $100 worth of bonds for which the lodge would pay 5 percent interest."

In November 1964, Columbus Lodge #2143 officers and State and local dignitaries gathered in Brooklyn to celebrate and participate in the opening of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, named after the Italian navigator who discovered the harbor of New York in 1524. Pete Gisonda, a North Massapequa resident, recalled "It was cold that day."

A month later the wives and daughters of the lodge members established a committee which later evolved into the Ladies Auxiliary. Mrs. Anthony Cesario was elected the first Chairlady (now known as President) and their next meeting was held at Corinne's Dance Studio in Massapequa. To this day, Corinne still attends many lodge events including the annual installation of new officers.

An affair was held at the Huntington Townhouse on Feb. 13, 1965, marking the first anniversary of the founding of Columbus Lodge #2143. It was attended by almost 1,200 people. At that affair, it was announced that Columbus Lodge was now the second largest local lodge in the United States. As he reflected back, founding member Angelo Roncallo proclaimed it "a remarkable first year."

Today the Columbus Lodge #2143 is a staple in the community awarding 17 high school and college scholarships annually to local students. Its annual Italian Feast and Festival is run for the enjoyment of the community. In addition, the lodge offers its members various social and philanthropic activities. To become a member, one may contact Gary Caparco at 799-2613.


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