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Founders Day banquet returns to Colombo Lodge in Trail

The Colombo Lodge will honour about 40 members with 40-year pins at Founders Day banquet
Forty Colombo Lodge members will receive their 40-year pins at the Founders Day banquet. L-R: Colombo executives; Ron Parisotto, Allana Ferro, Alex Coutts and John Lattanzio. Photo: Jim Bailey

The Societa Cristoforo Colombo di Mutuo Soccorso Italiana, Loggia #1 is thrilled to invite members, family, and friends to the Founders Day banquet on April 22.

Also known as the Colombo Lodge, the venerable Italian benevolent society will honour an unprecedented number of longtime members with their 40-year pin at the banquet.

“There is about 40 members that are due from 2020-to-2023, because we couldn’t honour those who joined from 1980 to 1983 because of COVID,” said Colombo presidente Alex Coutts.

It is the first Founders Day banquet the Colombo has been able to celebrate since 2019, and for those 40, 40-year members, a unique and special honour.

“It’s open to all the members and the public,” said Coutts. “A lot of 40-year people want to invite family and friends because it is a great milestone to celebrate with friends and family, so we expect a good turnout.”

For those 40-year members that cannot attend, the Colombo will honour them at future meetings and/or events, assured Coutts.

The Colombo Lodge was founded in 1905 and has been a vital link for the Italian community in Trail for 118 years.

The Sorelle or Sisters of Colombo Lodge formed on Feb. 3, 1924 as a benevolent society serving the community, and will celebrate their 100th anniversary next year.

“I joined the lodge when I was 16 years old,” said Sorelle secretary and former president Allana Ferro. “My dad is Al Tognotti so that is just something we did, it was instilled in you that you joined the lodge.”

While numbers have declined from the early days, the Colombo still boasts healthy numbers today, with more than 320 members in both the Colombo and the Sorelle, says Colombo secretary Ron Parisotto.

“There may be Italians that belong to other Italian clubs, like the Italo Canadese or the Club Italico, the sports branch, but the majority, 90 per cent of them, are all members of the lodge.”

Like many societies and non-profits, the lodge was hit hard by the pandemic, which effectively cancelled hundreds of events, dinners, picnics and fundraisers over the course of three years. Members still paid their dues, yet, the lodge generated little revenue through the pandemic.

“Because of our forefathers we are in good financial shape, we wanted to make sure we didn’t delve into our surpluses from previous years,” said Parisotto. “We managed to keep it going, but we are on a thread right now.”

The Colombo turned the sour grapes into wine, seizing the opportunity to make much-needed upgrades to the facility. Thanks to a grant from the Heritage BC Society and Columbia Basin Trust, they installed a new HVAC system, upgraded furnaces, the fire escape, and roof, and replaced all windows and doors along with other improvements.

The Colombo also renovated the main hall and ladies’ bathroom with funds contributed equally from both the lodge and the Sorelle, with all the work done by its volunteer-members.

“We completely renovated the upstairs,” said Parisotto. “It is really a nice looking facility now, so I guess we are very excited, because we want to show off everything that we have here, and what we’ve accomplished during this difficult time.”

Though independent, the Colombo and the Sorelle work together on many if not most initiatives including Piazza Days and Silver City Days. They take the lead in the Trail Ambassador Programme, the Bocce Classic, and the Spaghetteta, not to mention several other dinners and events throughout the year.

“And for the past 10 years or so, we are excited every fall to host the Smoke Eaters,” said Parisotto. “We host a huge dinner … and we teach them how to play Tippitts.”

The Colombo Lodge has also been honoured as a “Patron of Pediatrics” for their contributions to the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) Health Foundation.

The ever popular Art of Wine and the Kootenay Friends of Children Foundation partnered with the lodge making it possible to raise and donate in excess of $115,000 to the KBRH Health Foundation.

The Sorelle and the lodge also extend many humanitarian efforts and end of life supports to senior members.

“We continue to visit anybody who is in a seniors home or hospital, and we have representation at their funerals,” said Ferro. “So we see our members right to the end.”

The Colombo Lodge also provides three scholarships to graduates of the Trail high school, among other contributions to a variety of non-profits and community groups.

Getting back to pre-COVID times may take awhile, but Colombo members look forward to reintroducing the Greater Trail community to its fine Italian hospitality.

“We feel the lodge has been a good corporate citizen over the years,” said Parisotto. “We are open for business now, and we are getting there slowly. Like I said, our goal is to be viable, and be able to pay the bills.”

Family and friends who would like to attend the Founders Day Banquet are asked to RSVP the lodge by April 14.

Those interested in booking the Colombo hall or meeting rooms, can go to their website and inquire under “Catering.”

Jim Bailey

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