On Saturday, November 4, the Cornelia-Vita Nuova Lodge #1198 of San Francisco celebrated its milestone 100th Anniversary, only the second lodge to do so in our Grand Lodge. 150 persons attended this special event, which was held at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club, in the heart of North Beach. Guests were treated to a loop of humorous and memorable lodge pictures shown on a screen as well as historical documents and artifacts on display. The Vita Nuova Lodge gave the Grand Lodge its first and eleventh Grand Venerables, the Cornelia dei Gracchi a State Queen, and the Cornelia-Vita Nuova a State President.
The evening opened with Lodge President Jennifer De Palma Chandler welcoming our guests and setting the celebratory tone for the evening with her well-chosen words. We enjoyed a delicious meal of salad, two types of pasta and chicken piccata. Next to speak was Josephine Longhitano, who introduced past lodge Queens from the Cornelia dei Gracchi and Vita Nuova lodges who were in attendance…herself, Linda De Palma, Pat Pulvirenti, Maria Fassio Pignati, Evelyn Riccio Longinotti, Carla Riccio Silva, Vice President Gina Longhitano, and Angela Silva, our Immediate Past President.
Past Lodge and State President Maria Fassio Pignati then introduced the visiting dignitaries: Olivia Deliddo, Colombo-Stella Lodge President and Steve Barra, Rec. Secty.; Kevin Coleman , President of the St. Helena Lodge and two of his officers and member Gloria Garibaldi; Angelo Fanucchi, President of the Columbia Lodge of San Mateo, which brought 11 members, and Ray Bini, President of the Vallejo Lodge. She also acknowledged the officers of the Cornelia-Vita Nuova and asked them to rise.
State Officers who attended were State Trustee of the North Pam Bini; Recording Secretary Lori Rossi and husband Mark, the CAO of our Western Foundation; State 3rd Vice President Alan Spano; State 2nd Vice President Louie Lodi; our State President Arlene Nunziati, and our Past State and National President Vera Girolami, our lodge State Deputy, and husband Judge Al.
We were honored to have with us the Hon. Davide Corriero, Deputy Consul General of Italy and his lovely wife Sara. Davide spoke beautifully about pride in our history and thanked our lodge for its years of service to the community.
Honoree of the evening was Stella Riccio, who has been a lodge member for 74 years and is our longest tenured member. Past President Linda De Palma introduced Stella, spoke about her dedication and service to the lodge and the many delicious meringues she has made for the lodge and community through the years, and presented her with a lovely bouquet of roses. Stella gave an emotional speech of gratitude to the lodge and to her large family which warmed our hearts.
Past State President Maria then presented Lodge President Jennifer with a beautiful Certificate of Honor from the City and County of San Francisco congratulating the Lodge on our 100th. San Francisco Supervisor Catherine Stefani was scheduled to present the certificate but was unable to attend.
Our State President Arlene Nunziati, who served as our former State Deputy, then spoke and presented Certificates of Appreciation to Past Presidents Linda De Palma, Maria Fassio Pignati, Angela Silva, and to President Jennifer De Palma Chandler. She also presented a certificate to honoree Stella Riccio, and longtime lodge supporter Mary Romeo, who was celebrating her 100th birthday the next day, and who received a special birthday cake while people sang Happy Birthday to her.
Our Past State and National President Vera Girolami presented President Jennifer with a Certificate from the National Lodge congratulating the Cornelia-Vita Nuova on its 100th.
Then it was time to cut our special cake, and President Jennifer did the honors with a flourish. The delicious strawberry shortcake was from the renowned Dianda Italian American Pastry of San Francisco.
After desert, there was entertainment to enjoy, provided by the Ron Borelli Band, which accompanied Indigo Grace Longhitano Huber (7) and Georgia Chandler (10) who sang “Mambo Italiano” to thunderous applause. Our special “Guest Artist” featured President Jennifer, disguised as Andrea Bocelli, complete with wig and dark glasses, singing Con Te Partiro’ as a duet with Maria Fassio Pignati, which surprised everyone! The musical interlude ended with soprano Maria and tenor Mete Tasin singing the “Libiamo” Drinking Song from La Traviata while everyone waved their wine glasses. Afterwards, a raffle was held with many beautiful prizes, and the evening ended with dancing to the music of the Ron Borelli Band.
The lodge wishes to thank those who attended, those who brought raffle gifts, and our loyal members for their support. Kudos to committee members Jennifer De Palma Chandler, Linda De Palma, Gina Longhitano, Josephine Longhitano, Anna Pignati, Maria Pignati, Tony Pignati and Ugo Pignati, for creating a beautiful event. We look forward to more years of service to the Italian community!
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Sons and Daughters of Italy in America
Grand Lodge of California
P. O. Box 2467
Fairfield, CA 94533
Phone: (415) 586-1316