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Thousands Of Spectators Line Fifth Avenue For Annual Columbus Day Parade

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Italian-American pride was on display Monday as thousands of spectators lined Fifth Avenue for the annual Columbus Day parade.

Billed as the world's largest celebration of Italian-American heritage and culture, the parade features 35,000 marchers, more than 25 enormous floats and nearly 30 marching bands.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio took part in the festivities as the parade traveled up Fifth Avenue from 47th Street to 72nd Street before an estimated one million spectators clad in red, white and green.

PHOTOS: Columbus Day Parade

Revelers honored their past, their present and future in a day of smiles and joy for the young and the young at heart, CBS2's Scott Rapoport reported.

"It's part of our heritage," said paradegoer Olga Negrini from Carlstadt, New Jersey. "I think to bring my grandson with me and show him Italian spirit."

For all the pageantry, what often goes unmentioned is that mission of the parade, organized by the Columbus Citizens Foundation, is to provide scholarships to students who have the ability but not the financial means to get an education.

Lillian Mongitore Theodoro, of Roslyn Heights was there with her family to remember her dad Joseph, who died last year.

"We wanted to bring the children and have them feel the power of their heritage and the beauty of their heritage," she told WCBS 880's Ginny Kosola. "So we're very happy to be here and I think my dad is smiling down on us all."

Many say it just makes this day all the more special.

"We're proud to be here -- Italian," a spectator said.

The parade was first held in Manhattan in 1929.

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