By Ben Fractenberg and Jordan Heller
MANHATTAN — Tens of thousands of people and more than 100 bands and floats arrived on Fifth Avenue Monday for the 66th annual Columbus Day Parade.
Though the holiday primarily honors the discovery of America, Columbus Day doubles as a celebration of Italian-American heritage — New York's annual parade is considered the largest Italian-American celebration in the United States.
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New York gubernatorial candidates Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino — all Italian-Americans — attended this year's parade, which runs between E. 42nd and E. 72nd streets.
Maria Bartiromo, CNBC's popular "money honey" and host of the "Closing Bell," served as grand marshall.
On NBC New York's live coverage of the event, Bartiromo told parade anchor and former "Saturday Night Live" cast-member Joe Piscopo that she was proud of her Italian-American roots.
"I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors," she said.
Piscopo also spoke of his immigrant ancestry.
"They made fun of my father when he was in kindergarten with that italian accent and they told him, you learn the language, you're in america, you have to learn the language," said Piscopo.
"And you know what, we didn't argue, we didn't start a lawsuit, we didn't start legislation. You know what, my father learned the language."
Yvonne Goldie, 50, who was visiting New York with her family from Scotland, said, "It's really exciting. I've never been to a parade this size."
The Italian-Americans who came to watch the parade beamed with pride and took it as a day to celebrate Italian contributions to American culture.
"We taught Americans how to eat, how to dress," said Francesco Carbonara, 50, from Queens.
"This is the one day everyone is Italian," said Antonio Simione, 57, from Queens.