Queen of Italian-Americans

Italian heritage is kept alive as it blends with New Orleans culture through the Italian American Marching Club St. Joseph Parade. 

The parade honors St. Joseph and shows pride in Italian heritage. Southeastern student Sarah Marie Cardenia Vogel was dubbed as this year’s queen of the parade will take place on March 14 at 6 p.m. 

sarah vogel

Southeastern student Sarah Vogel is the queen
of this year’s Italian Marching Club St. Joseph Parade.
Her grandfather was the co-founder of the club. 

Courtesy of Cheryl Montalbano

“My grandfather, Joseph Cardenia actually founded the club along with Tony Russo, so this is a huge honor,” said Vogel. “I’ve been participating since I was about 5 years old so it’s been years in the making, just waiting for the chance to represent such a great organization.”

According to Herbert P. Montalbano, in charge of advertising and public relations of the group, the honor of being named queen not only represents Vogel’s involvement as a maid for over 10 years, but also carries on her grandfather’s legacy.

Vogel will ride in a float throughout New Orleans’ streets after being crowned at the free pre-parade celebration on Sunday, March 8.

Beginning on Canal Street, the parade is one of few traveling through the French Quarter. It will contain 15 floats, nine marching bands and over 500 marchers in tuxedos who will hand out roses in exchange for a kiss.

“If the ladies give no kiss we may take the rose back,” said Judge Anthony J. Russo, Chairman of the Italian American festivities, on the club’s press release. “We haven’t taken one rose back yet.”

Around 75,000 locals and tourists typically line the streets to enjoy the celebration and to receive flowers, fava beans, and red, white and green beads.

In addition to the floats Vogel and her court maids will ride, one float will be the St. Joseph altar float carrying traditional St. Joseph altar foods made by Italian families.  

Vogel’s crowning at Piazza d’Italia at 11:45 a.m. on March 8 will kick off the celebration. Vogel will be surrounded by her 80 maids near a waterfall. The pre-parade celebration will also pay tribute to this year’s grand marshals, which include James Darren, an actor/producer/singer; Lena Prima, a singer; and Joseph Zolfo, producer of NCIS New Orleans.

The world’s largest pasta dish celebration will take place Friday, March 13 at noon at Riverside Hilton. Guests will be able to enjoy a traditional St. Joseph pasta dish eight feet in diameter. Bread crumbs will sprinkle the top of the pasta, which represents saw dust in honor of St. Joseph, the carpenter.

The public is welcome to attend the pre-parade celebration and pasta dish celebration for free.

Following the parade will be a Muffaletta Dance in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. More information can be found from Montalbano at [email protected]