Tens of Thousands Celebrate Italian Pride in Columbus Day Parade

By Aidan Gardiner on October 8, 2012 9:44am | Updated on October 8, 2012 4:26pm

NEW YORK CITY — Tens of thousands of parade-goers lined up along Fifth Avenue Monday for the 68th annual Columbus Day Parade.

The parade, which started at noon, was expected to feature some 35,000 marchers winding up Fifth Avenue, from 47th Street to 72nd Street, according to the parade website.

Among the elected officials joining the parade were Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governer Andrew Cuomo, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

“Another great parade," mused Bloomberg before starting along the parade route. "Another chance to celebrate the ethnic diversity of New York City...Today everybody’s a little bit Italian," he said.

He encouraged spectators to also go visit the exhibit at the top of the Christopher Columbus statue that currently allows viewers to rise up and come face-to-face with the statue in Columbus Square.

“It’s the one time in your life you’re going to be able to get close to it. Never again, that’s for sure. So it would be a great time to do it.”

Sen. Schumer echoed Bloomberg's sentiments: "Everybody is Italian today and my name is Schu-mar," he joked.

Gov. Cuomo set aside a few moments before the parade to make a political endorsement — announcing his support of incumbent Democratic State Senator Joseph Addabbo to a group of onlookers, according to Politicker.com.
 
Many parade-goers were just excited to take part in the longstanding New York tradition.
 
Claire Bello, 66, from northern New Jersey, said she has participated in every Columbus Day parade  she can remember. "My mother was born in Italy, and I very much enjoyed all the Italian cultures."  
 
Her friend, Evonne Alberia, also enjoyed the festive mood of the day. "I am a hundred percent Italian and I always love the parade," said Alberia, 62. "Especially when it doesn't rain."

The temperatures hovered at a brisk 56 degrees with light winds that fluttered the red, white and green flags up and down the avenue.

The parade came as city schools and government offices have the day off.

Various government agencies will be closed for the holiday, including city schools, the United States Post Office and courts.

There will be no garbage pick-up, and alternate side parking rules have been suspended.

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