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New York City's Annual Columbus Day Parade Marches Up Fifth Avenue

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It's another sign of New York's recovery from the pandemic.

The world's largest celebration of Italian-American heritage has returned to the streets of New York City Monday.

The Columbus Day Parade marched up Fifth Avenue.

As CBS2's Vanessa Murdock reports, from the center lanes to the sidewalks, Italian American pride poured down Fifth Avenue.

"It's a dream, I come every year and I love it," one parade-goer said.

Italian flags and marching bands spiced up the stretch from 47th to 72nd streets as vibrant floats, famous faces, officers on horseback, and hot cars wowed the crowd.

Monday marked the 77th Annual Columbus Day Parade and those Murdock spoke with were thrilled to be back together to celebrate.

"This is the moment of the heart, to see each other in the eyes. To touch. You know how we Italian we are, we miss this direct contact," said Francesca Aldirese, an Italian senator representing who comes every year, celebrating the love she has for Italians abroad.

PHOTOS: Columbus Day Parade Marches Up Fifth Avenue

"It's very special, because I've been marching in this parade since I'm about 3 years old when my father was a police officer. So I carried on the tradition. I have never missed one parade in 39 years, said Paul DiGiacomo, president of Detectives Endowment Association, representing more than 19,000 detectives in NYC.

"It's amazing," said 10th grader Vittoria Sandri.

"I like when everyone screams 'Italy, Italy,' with all the flags and see how much it means to be an Italian," said 8th grader Luca Pelliggoni.

"He was the great explorer. If it weren't for him, where would we be today? We have to remember that," said Aldo Verelli, chairman of the Columbus Citizens Parade.

This is tradition. President Benjamin Harrison signed the law creating the holiday in 1892, a year after 11 Italian immigrants were lynched in New Orleans, and at a time when Italians in America faced discrimination.

Columbus was commissioned by Queen Isabella of Spain, and after Columbus, many Spanish explorers followed, bringing Hispanic culture, language, and religion to Mexico, the Caribbean, and South and Central America.

While Columbus Day gets celebrated along Fifth Avenue on the second Monday in October, many around the county celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day.

"Today we are honoring our ancestors," said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

Nez and first lady Phefelia Nez spoke with CBS2 from the Pueblo Cultural Center in New Mexico.

"The whole idea of bringing inclusion and equity into mainstream America, and bring light to the fact that indigenous people have been here before Columbus, and we're still here," Phefelia Nez said.

"No matter where we've been stepped on or oppressed, we have managed to overcome these adversities throughout history of this country," Jonathan Nez said.

A day of recognizing our roots across the nation – a day filled with remembering and celebrating.


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