41st Annual Columbus Day Parade

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By Monica Flores

Despite an early morning rain, families and children huddled in the streets anticipating the colorful floats of the 41st annual Christopher Columbus Day in the Morris Park. Organized by the Morris Park Community Association, the parade is the second largest Columbus Day parade in New York state.

It began by Van Nest and ran 18 blocks up the avenue to a reviewing stand at the end of Morris Park. Among the parade participants were elected officials that were campaigning and promoting their political agendas. Politicians such as Senator Jeff Klein had volunteers distributing free cannoli among the crowd. Mark Gjonaj had a vibrant float with supporters and festive music.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was disinvited from the event given his ongoing efforts to remove Columbus monuments around New York City. For many, this parade is looked upon as being a celebration of Italian American heritage.

Kimberlie Meluziis, 21, is among the many locals that feel a sense of cultural connection. “I’ve been a part of this parade ever since I was a small child,” said Meluziis. “To me it represents community and the Italian history of this neighborhood.”

Opponents of the Columbus parade such as Jose Flores, 23, were unenthused about the event. “It makes me uncomfortable that the community is celebrating a man that massacred millions of indigenous people,” said Flores. “I enjoy the parade but I think the name should be changed to indigenous people’s celebration or Italian pride parade.” In spite of the mixed emotions, locals and marchers were in cheerful spirits as the parade ended with a musical performance by the band “Just Us.”

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