Italian- American activist Lou Rago: “Italians are famous for our love of family, friends, and food.”

Italian- American activist Lou Rago will be the parade marshal for the 2021 Columbus Day parade in Chicago on Oct. 11, 2021. 

How can Italian-Americans celebrate Italian- American Heritage Month throughout the month of October?

Italians are famous for our love of family, friends, and food. The more people can gather at their homes or at a restaurant, the better! Sunday dinners are so special. It is a great tradition to talk our friends and relatives about how our grandparents immigrated to America. We haven’t allowed assimilation to erase our amazing heritage. 

What are your top three favorite Italian restaurants?

My three favorites are La Scarola (721 W. Grand Ave., Chicago); Topo Gigio Ristorante (1516 N. Wells St., Chicago); and Piccolo Sogno (464 N. Halsted St., Chicago). 

What is the schedule for the Columbus Day parade?

We are working with one arm tied behind our back because we are still in a pandemic. A lot of people are still afraid of contacting the virus. Therefore, the parade is going to be smaller. It is going to kick off at 1:00 p.m. on State Street on Oct. 11. It will be televised on channel 7. 

Ryan Chiaverini and Val Warner (from ABC7) will be the emcees of the parade! 

Yes. So will my son Anthony Rago. 

Why is Columbus Day and Italian-American Heritage Month so important to you? 

Italian- Americans have contributed so much to this country. Italians- Americans were the largest ethnic group to serve during World War II. Whatever contributions Italian- Americans have made to America, they’ve made to the world. 

How do you respectfully talk to friends and family who dislike Columbus and his voyage? 

I ask people, “what do you base your opinions on?” We have factual history and historical data. A lot of history says that Columbus was not responsible for all these horrible accusations. People will just say, “well we heard.” A lot of information about Columbus is wrong. We have had studies done and have had panels with Columbus scholars who have read his diaries and his articles. All these scholars have said that Columbus didn’t do half of things people accuse him of doing.  

If Columbus hadn’t discovered this land, then somebody else would’ve discovered it. Maybe we shouldn’t be sending rockets up to the Moon or to Mars in fear or hurting the species that live there. 

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