Friends of Columbus
The Calabrese Society
Ralph Sparks Foundation
(Band Sponsor)
Valenti Subaru
(Band Sponsor)



Gallery of Grand Marshals

2015 Grand Marshal
A Celebration of Milestones

Instead of choosing a grand marshal for the annual Westerly/Pawcatuck Columbus Day Parade, Parade Committee Chairman Beth Frenette decided to include many honorees from the community with this year's "Celebration of Milestones" theme. "There are so many local businesses and organizations celebrating huge milestones. We didn't want to just pick one," she said. "We want to celebrate them all, and we keep finding out that more and more are celebrating milestones this year." Some of the milestones being feted during the parade, which has been held since 1947, include 100 years for Reale's Grocery, 90 years for the Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce, 90 years for The Westerly Hospital and 100 years for the Misquamicut Fire District.

2014 Grand Marshal
Ken Burton, Sr. of the American Flag Fund Committee

Ken was born in Westerly in 1946. He attended local schools until 1963. Ken joined the US Army in 1964 and served at Fort Lewis, WA, with the 27th infantry Division until 1966. Ken and his wife married in 1967 and took up residence on Potter Hill Rd. They raised two sons, now 45 and 34 years of age. Ken worked at Pfizer from 1967 to 1969, the Cottrell Company from 1969 to 1975, and at Posi-Seal/Fisher from 1975 to 2004. He retired in 2005.

Ken joined the American Legion in 2002. He has served as finance officer and is presently chaplain. Ken began the American Flag Fund Committee along with Jack Howard in 2009. The organization was sponsored by the Westerly Armory. The first 36 flags went up in downtown on Memorial Day 2010. Today, over 200 flags fly throughout the town for events, holidays and parades.

2013 Grand Marshal
Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of Arlington, VA

Bishop Loverde was ordained a priest for service in the Diocese of Norwich on December 18, 1965, in the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. He served in a variety of assignments both on the parochial and diocesan levels. In 1988 he was ordained an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Hartford, was installed as the eleventh Bishop of Ogdensburg, New York in 1994, and became the third Bishop of Arlington in 1999.

He served as Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Vocations from 1995 to 1998, and was a member of the Bishops’ Administrative Committee from 2004 to 2008. He is presently a member of the Administrative Committee 11/2011 to 11/2014. In addition to being the Chair of the Board of Trustees at CDU, he is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Catholic University of America and of Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland . He also is a member of the Board of Directors of The Institute for Psychological Sciences.

Bishop Loverde was born in Framingham, Mass., but raised in Pawcatuck, where he attended St. Michael's School and, later, the Immaculate Conception Junior High School.

2012 Grand Marshals
Douglas A. Rayner & Eugenia Rayner

Mr. Douglas A. Rayner, and his wife Eugenia Rayner have been named the Grand Marshalls of the 2012 Westerly-Pawcatuck Columbus Day Parade. Most notably the Rayner’s have performed countless volunteer hours for the Chorus of Westerly’s Summer Pops Annual Concert. The Rayner’s have been involved in the event for the past 32 years.

Douglas A. Rayner, Doug, was born in Westerly, R.I., and attended high school just across the river at Stonington High School. He served in the United States Air Force from 1959 – 1970. Eugenia, Gene, was born in Hartford, CT and attended Bulkeley High School in Hartford. They moved back to Westerly with their children, David, Kimberlie, and Kristen in 1970. Doug joined Dr. Louis LaPere and Dr. John Wood in the practice of Obstetrics and Gynecology before retiring from the practice in 1999. Doug and Gene volunteer for many community organizations, with their main focus being The Chorus of Westerly Summer Pops. Doug and Gene have served on the Chorus’ Summer Pops Steering Committee for many years. Gene has also been the Patron’s Coordinator for the past 20 years. “The two of them have made the Pops what it is today, far exceeding what the event was intended to be. The two of them have also successfully raised over 5 million dollars for the arts in Westerly and Pawcatuck.” said by the executive director Ryan Saunders of the Chorus of Westerly.

The Summer Pops concert in Wilcox Park, has attracted audiences of 20 -25,000 annually. The Rayners and a host of volunteers are responsible for organizing the event, as well as procuring the funds necessary for such a production. Doug has also been a member of the Rotary Club of Westerly, also a major supporter of the Summer Pops, for 41 years, serving as president, secretary and board member during that time.

2011 Grand Marshal
The Westerly Band

Now in its 159th year, the Westerly Band continues to provide southern New England with a variety of popular, classical, and ethnic music and, of course, marches. The band has participated in the Westerly Columbus Day Parade from the parade’s beginning as a small procession to the large, ten-division, two-state event it is today.

Although handwritten notes indicate that the Westerly Band traces its history to at least 1852, during the early years of the Civil War the Band ceased operations as many members marched off to fight for the Union. In 1863, the band was reconstituted as a community morale-builder. During the 148 years since, the Westerly Band has met monthly to rehearse and perform, which makes it the oldest continually active community unit in the United States, and a signature element in Westerly’s unique culture and history. Under the direction of Alison Patton and the assistant direction of Charles Masse, the 2011 edition of the Westerly Band includes nearly 60 members of the community. Collectively, they play instruments ranging from clarinet and saxophone to trumpet, tuba, and percussion.

2010 Grand Marshal
Pasquale L. "Patsy" Castagna

Pasquale “Patsy” Castagna was born in Westerly in 1921. He is one of three Castagna brothers, including Ray, a local realtor and businessman, and Louis, who was killed in Germany near the end of World War II. Patsy himself served with the US Army Engineers during World War II, including extensive service in the Pacific, where he won the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, among other awards. Patsy is a lifetime member of the Amancio Falcone Gaccione VFW Post, and the American Legion.

In 1950, Patsy married Bernice E. Stribl, of Westerly. They would remain married for the next 57 years, until Bernice’s death in 2008. Patsy and Bernice had four children – Sharon Ferguson of Old Lyme, CT; Patricia White, Michael Castagna, and Louis Castagna, all of Westerly – as well as eight grandchildren, and a number of great-grandchildren.

Patsy worked for 34 years with the United States Postal Service. He retired in 1983. Over the years, Patsy also worked for Besso’s Newstand, the EZ Package Store, and J.C. Penney Stores. In 1987, Patsy began a working association with Grandeview Bed & Breakfast as property manager. In 2005 he was honored as the Outstanding Older Worker in Rhode Island by Experience Works, a national organization that promotes the employment of senior citizens. Patsy is currently on medical leave from Grandeview Bed & Breakfast.

Although family and work kept Patsy a very busy man, he has always found time to serve the community. He began working with the Westerly Columbus Day Parade Committee in 1964 and became its chairman in 1967, a post he held until 2008. He is a lifetime member of the Calabrese Club, a lifelong member of Immaculate Conception parish, and served for 36 years on both the Westerly Planning Commission and the Westerly Recreation Board. Decades ago, Patsy coached a semi-pro basketball team in Westerly, as well as the Masonic Lodge softball team that won a state championship sometime in the 1970’s

When asked what it is about Westerly that has kept him so committed to this community for 89 years, his response is typically plainspoken: “To begin with I was born and raised here,” he said. “These are the only people I ever knew. And even though I traveled a lot, every time I come back from those places I thank God for being from Westerly.”

2009 Grand Marshals
Joe & Betty Cugini

(From The Westerly Sun): Joe Cugini has traveled the world and been to every state in the union, but says there is no place like home.

“The best place to be has always been Westerly, Rhode Island,” Cugini said. “This is God’s garden spot on earth.”

Cugini’s affection for the town, which has been his home for 79 years, and for his Italian heritage are the reasons he is so proud that he and his wife, Betty Cugini, have been chosen as grand marshals of the 2009 Columbus Day Parade.

Joe and Betty Cugini were the unanimous choice of the Permanent Columbus Day Committee, the small group of dedicated volunteers who work all year to put on the annual two-state parade. President Joseph Potter, who said the theme for this year’s parade is volunteerism, said the Cuginis were chosen “because of their continued commitment to the community.”

“We just felt we should honor them for their many years of service,” Potter said.

Joseph Nicholas Cugini was born in Westerly in 1930 and was a member of Westerly High School’s class of 1948. It was there that he met Elizabeth Marie Champlin, and the high school sweethearts have been together ever since.

“I took Betty to the junior prom in 1947,” Joe recalled. They were engaged in 1953, and married in 1955.

While living in Westerly and raising their two children, Betty-Jo and David, the Cugini’s began creating their legacy of service.

Joe worked for the Westerly Community Credit Union for 41 years, retiring in 2000 as president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board. During that time, he served credit unions and their members on a state, national and international level.

He was elected to the Credit Union Executive Society Hall of Fame and traveled to Brisbane, Australia to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the World Council of Credit Unions.

Locally, Joe founded the now 25-year-old Westerly Community Credit Union Holiday Basketball Tournament. He has served on the board of the Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber of Commerce, and hosts the chamber’s candidate forum prior to every municipal election in Westerly.

He has also volunteered with Westerly’s Tercentenary Committee, Westerly FOPA, the Westerly Renal Institute, Ocean Community YMCA, Westerly Adult Day Services, and is a member of the Westerly Fire District Future Needs Committee. He is an incorporator of both the Westerly Public Library and the Westerly Hospital.

He has received numerous local awards and accolades, including having the middle school media center named in his honor after he led the Vision 20-20 Committee that oversaw the school’s completion.

Betty, a fellow member of Westerly High School’s class of 1948, has an equally long history of service. After leaving her job as a kindergarten teacher in the Westerly school system to raise her family, she stayed active in the district as a volunteer.

She also volunteered with local scout groups, CYO, and served Girl Scouts of Rhode Island on a state and national level. Like Joe, she also serves at the Westerly Adult Day Services and Westerly Hospital, and is the recipient of awards for her volunteerism.

Together, Joe and Betty registered so many new voters in Rhode Island that they earned Westerly the distinction of having Captain America — the patriotic Mr. Potato Head statue — reside in town.

Speaking for himself and Betty, Joe said they “were very surprised and very pleased” to be chosen for the honorary position.

“We were absolutely delighted that they would even think of us,” he said.

2008 Grand Marshal
Roberta Mudge Humble

Click HERE for a biography of Roberta Mudge Humble


2007 Grand Marshal
Stonington Chief of Police David P. Erskine

From 1999 to the present, David P. Erskine has served as Police Chief for the Town of Stonington. His tenure with the Stonington Police Department stretches back 42 years, from his appointment as a patrol officer on November 1, 1965. Chief Erskine was promoted to Captain in 1983, a position he held until 1989 when he was appointed as Deputy Chief of Police. He served as acting Chief from January 1998 until his official appointment as Chief in March of 1999. Chief Erskine is a lifelong resident of Stonington. He and his wife Marcia have one daughter, Lora, and two grandchildren. In 2007, Chief Erskine won the Distinguished Chief's Award by the Police Commissioner's Association of Connecticut.

2006 Grand Marshal Colonel Steven Paré
Superintendant of the RI State Police


2005 Grand Marshal
RI Senator Dennis Algiere

Dennis Algiere has represented Westerly in the Rhode Island state Senate since 1992. He holds a J.D. from the Southern New England School of Law, an M.S. from Northeastern University, and a B.S. from Providence College. Senator Algiere works as a Senior Vice-President for the Washington Trust Company.

2004 Grand Marshal
Chef Frank Terranova

Frank Terranova is an associate instructor at Johnson & Wales University's prestigious College of Culinary Arts. He is the host of Cooking with Class, a daily television cooking segment on Channel 10, the NBC affiliate in Providence, RI.

2003 Grand Marshal
Major General Reginald Centracchio

Major General Reginald A. Centracchio assumed duties as The Adjutant General of Rhode Island, and Commanding General of the Rhode Island National Guard, on 1 August 1995. As The Adjutant General, he directs the establishment, organization an maintenance of the military forces of the State, comprised of units of the Army and Air National Guard, which are reserve components of the United States Army and Air Force, and the State Militia.

2002 Grand Marshals
Nick, Ron and Pete Cardi, Ni-Ro-Pe!

What is Ni-Ro-Pe? Where did it come from? Here is the story - When we were kids, our parents bought us a 10' row boat. This was a subtle way to let us know we would have to work to get anywhere in life. Our great-aunt Grace then told us we needed to name the boat. She took the first 2 letters of each of our first names and called it Ni-Ro-Pe, as in rope to tie the boat. Later we used Ni-Ro-Pe to help describe, in a single word, our personal assurance that when shopping at any one of our stores, you will experience the largest selection, the best service, and enjoy the absolute lowest prices - Everyday! Cardi's Furniture has been in business since 1928. We are proud to carry on the tradition of legendary customer service to all of our customers.

2001 Grand Marshal
Channel 10's Frank Coletta

Frank Coletta anchors News Channel 10 Sunrise and Noon. Frank joined News Channel 10 in 1978 as an assignment editor. He became a general assignment reporter in 1981 and began anchoring the "Today" show local cut-ins in 1982. He began anchoring the Saturday newscasts in 1983 and was named Sunrise anchor in 1985. Frank has received numerous reporting awards from the Associated Press and United Press International, and an Emmy nomination for investigative reporting in 1986. He has been named Best Morning Anchor by readers of Rhode Island Monthly magazine for 12 years in a row.

2000 Grand Marshal
Dr. Robert Ballard

Best known for his 1985 discovery of the Titanic, Robert D. Ballard has succeeded in tracking down numerous other significant shipwrecks, including the German battleship Bismarck, the lost fleet of Guadalcanal, the U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown (sunk in the World War II Battle of Midway), and most recently John F. Kennedy's boat, PT-109. In addition to being a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence, Ballard is president of the Institute for Exploration in Mystic, Connecticut.

Ballard has 13 honorary degrees and 6 military awards; he is a commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He received the National Geographic Society's prestigious Hubbard Medal in 1996 for "extraordinary accomplishments in coaxing secrets from the world's oceans and engaging students in the wonder of science." He has published 18 books, numerous scientific papers and a dozen articles in National Geographic magazine. Ballard also has been featured in several National Geographic television programs, including the record-breaking Secrets of the Titanic.


1999 Grand Marshals
State Senators Frank & Jane Gencarelli

After forty years in the building materials and construction industries, Frank founded Nycon in 1991. Under his leadership, Nycon grew from a local Indiana distributorship to a global enterprise. Prior to Nycon, Frank introduced Dryvit, an innovative German exterior wall facade system, in the United States. He co-founded Dryvit, Inc., a firm that eventually became a $45-million enterprise. Earlier on, with the P.L. Monroe Brick Co. in Providence, he was the district sales manager for the Northeast. Frank has a B.A. from the University of Rhode Island and served as the state senator from Rhode Island for eight years. He is a member of the Florida Independent Concrete & Aggregates Producers, Inc. (FICAP), the Florida Concrete and Products Association, Inc. (FCPA), and the Concrete Specifiers Institute.

1998 Grand Marshal
Eva Franchi

1997 Grand Marshal
Mayor Vincent A. Cianci

1996 Grand Marshal
Catherine Coleman


1995 Grand Marshal
Joseph Potter

1994 Grand Marshal
Judge Trumpetto


1993 Grand Marshal
Salty Brine


1992 Grand Marshal
George Grande


1991 Grand Marshal
Henry Nardone


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