UPPER EAST SIDE — Italian pride was on display along Fifth Avenue for the 67th annual Columbus Day Parade, which kicked off on an unusually warm mid-October Monday with a sea of red-white-and-green.
Viewers could see the parade gleaming all the way up Fifth Avenue in the bright sun as music blared from floats and colorful high school marching bands stomped up from 47th to 72nd street.
Petrina Passantino, 52, who came with her family from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, to take in the festivities, said it was "an honor" to watch the parade.
"It's amazing how our paisan Christopher came here and discovered the new land," Passantino said as she stood along Fifth Avenue at 60th Street.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly led the procession up Fifth Avenue. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, an honored guest, drew big applause as he waved to the throngs of spectators.
The event's organizers, the Columbus Citizens Foundation, anticipated more than 35,000 marchers and expected nearly 1 million spectators.
The festivities were dampened, however, when one spectator at 64th Street was taken to the hospital for cardiac arrest, according to FDNY offiicals. The man was taken to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center just before 3 p.m. in critical condition, fire officials said.