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Columbus Day Parade Celebrates Italian-American Culture

CHICAGO — The 60th annual Columbus Day Parade made its way through the Loop Monday with the names of notable Italian-Americans emblazoned on floats with nods to Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio, and celebrity chef and Food Network Star Giada de Laurentiis.

As Gov. Pat Quinn and other political leaders made their way along the parade route at midday, noticeably absent from the sparse crowd were Chicago Public Schools students who did not get a day off from school.

"Christopher Columbus belongs to everyone," said Parade Chairman Vincent Naccarato in his address to parade guests and participants. "Because Christopher Columbus was our first immigrant."

Former Chicago Sun-Times columnist Stella Foster was this year's Grand Marshal. In a short speech, she pointed out that "in case anyone out there is colorblind," she is black, not Italian, but said the community had been welcoming and supportive during her involvement with the event.

More than 150 floats participated in the parade, according to the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, which organizes the event, including Italian cultural clubs, organizations representing other nationalities and marching bands from local and out-of-state schools.