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columbus day parade in nyc

Of many celebrations that still mark the discovery of America, the biggest ones for consumers are the annual Columbus Day sales by major retailers coast to coast offering early fall bargains on furniture and winter apparel.

And, of course, there are the parades! The one in NYC is by far the largest, grandest and most popular, welcoming over 1 million spectators annually. This year, the annual Columbus Day Parade in NYC takes place on Monday, October 8, 2012 beginning at 11:45 AM – as huge lunchtime crowds come out to cheer along the parade route up Fifth Avenue from 44th Street north to 79th Street.

The vibrant glory of Italian American culture and heritage will take center stage on Fifth Avenue on Monday, October 8 celebrating Columbus Day with the 68th Annual Columbus Day Parade.

The parade will feature 35,000 marchers and over 100 contingents, including virtuoso performances of traditional and contemporary Italian and Italian-American music and dance, street performers, historical and contemporary floats, over a dozen marching bands, and national and international dignitaries.

The parade turns Fifth Avenue into a reverberating canyon of music, dance, and theatrical displays set amid a sea of red, white, and green – the colors of the Italian tri-color flag.

The Grand Marshal will be Mario Gabelli, philanthropist, namesake of the Fordham University Gabelli School of Business and founder, chairman and chief executive officer of GAMCO Investors.

Appearing on the Red Carpet in performances broadcast by WABC-TV will be Elise Testone, Season 11 American Idol contestant, members of the U.S. Marine Corps Band, tenor Christopher Temporelli, and cast members of Seti Mundo (The Seven Worlds).

Meanwhile, another big celebration happens on the West Coast as Columbus Day is observed during San Francisco Fleet Week – when the city’s Italian American population joins in to salute the US Navy while commemorating the famous Italian who brought his three famous ships to America in 1492.

What’s closed on Columbus Day?

Despite it being a normal workday for many Americans, Columbus Day is an official federal government holiday with the post office and banks closing in honor of the day (although Wall Street stock markets still stay open as usual.)

On Columbus Day, American Indians are also given equal time in many areas where Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated, usually with colorful native festivals and pow-wows to which the public are warmly welcomed.

Columbus Day Parade in New York

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Monday, October 10, is Columbus Day 2011 and many banks, state and local offices as well as U.S. post offices will be closed. In New York, the Columbus Day Parade will begin at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time, lasting until about 3:00 p.m.

New York’s Columbus Day Parade starts on Fifth Avenue at 44th Street and continues up Fifth to 79th Street.

A Columbus Day Mass will take place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 50th Street and Fith Avenue at 9:30 a.m. on Monday.

The Columbus Citizens Foundation has been organizing New York’s Columbus Day Parade since 1929.

More than 35,000 participate in the Columbus Day Parade each year, including more than 100 groups sporting floats, bands and an assortment of entries. About one million spectators view the parade – including almost 500,000 lining the streets to watch live – and it is among the largest celebrations of Italian-American culture in the world.

The Columbus Citizens Foundation has been organizing New York's Columbus Day Parade since 1929

The Columbus Citizens Foundation has been organizing New York's Columbus Day Parade since 1929

Traditionally, Columbus Day is held on the second Monday in October.

The first record of an event commemorating Columbus Day in the United States was on October 12, 1792.

Columbus Day celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ “discovering” Americas.

Columbus arrived in the Americas on October 12, 1492. Observance of Columbus Day varies throughout the United States. It became an official holiday in Colorado in 1906, and a federal holiday in 1937, although Hawaii and South Dakota do not recognize Columbus Day at all.

In New York, and in other cities around the country, Columbus Day celebration is a big, annual event, however.

Columbus Day Parade is one of the New York City’s annual big events

Columbus Day Parade is one of the New York City’s annual big events


Regarding this year’s Columbus Day Parade in New York Columbus Citizens Foundation said in a press release:

“On October 10, 2011, Fifth Avenue will be transformed during the Columbus Day Parade, the world’s largest celebration of Italian-American culture. The parade was led by Grand Marshal Joseph Plumeri, proud philanthropist, and Chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings.

“The Columbus Day Parade is a fun filled parade that gets bigger and better every year. Participants from all over the world march in our Parade with pride.

“This is already a special year for us, as we have invited and received confirmation from some of the most talented performers. Pia Toscano (American Idol Favorite) as well as the Italian Musical, “The Italian Fairy” are just some of the notable performers. The Sacred Heart University Marching Band as well as Stony Brook University Marching Band will be just a few of our new and exciting musical acts in the Parade. This year, the Parade will be marching up Fifth Avenue from 44th to 72nd Street. The grandstands will be located on Fifth Avenue between 67th and 69th Streets.

“The parade celebrates the spirit of exploration and courage that inspired Christopher Columbus’s 1492 expedition and the important contributions Italian-Americans have made to the United States. Over a dozen high school bands, as well as virtuosi professional groups from the United States and Italy, marched up Fifth Avenue and filled the canyons of midtown with joyous, heart-pounding music. Traditional folk groups performed centuries-old dances, and cutting-edge designs were brought to the parade route in displays of the vibrant culture that is Italy today.”