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NEWS | Oct. 16, 2019

Chicago’s 2019 Columbus Day Parade honors U.S. Army Reserve general officer

By Capt. Michael Ariola 85th Support Command

Brig. Gen. Kris A. Belanger, Commanding General, 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command, participated in the Chicago’s 67th Annual Columbus Day Parade, as the Honorary Parade Grand Marshall, Oct. 14, 2019.

The parade, organized by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, commemorated the historic 1492 voyage of famed explorer Christopher Columbus and celebrated Italian-American heritage, culture and contributions to the nation. The celebration was the second largest Columbus Day Parade in the United States with thousands of spectators that lined the streets.

Belanger, a graduate of the United States Military Academy and the United States Army War College, is a third generation Italian-American and commander of the 85th USARSC, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

The 85th USARSC consists of more than 4,000 Soldiers spread across nine Brigade Support Elements and 45 Battalions throughout 25 states in the continental U.S.

The parade, broadcasted on Chicago’s ABC 7, kicked off at 12:30 p.m. with the U.S. Naval Band, Great Lakes, led by Director, Lieutenant Patrick Hill and traveled along State Street from Wacker Drive to Van Buren Street. 133 marching units consisting of floats, marching bands, dancers and acrobats participated in this year’s parade.

This year’s theme was ‘Food and Culture’ with participation from local businesses and ethnic civic organizations representing five continents and 23 countries.

“The biggest attraction this year was the band we brought in from Italy. The band is called the Bersaglieri Marching Band. They are a military marching band. They have them all across Italy. This particular band was from Sicily an island off the coast of Italy,” said Lino Greco, Parade Chairman. “We had 30 units from different ethnic organizations participating in today’s parade,”

At the conclusion of the parade, Belanger commented on the event and her role representing the Army as the Honorary Grand Marshal.

“It was great to see Chicago’s Italian-American community get together and celebrate diversity within the construct of the entire parade,” said Belanger. “It was a fun and memorable event.”