Columbus Day

Xinhua/Sipa USA

Everyone's Italian today: Columbus Day Parade takes over New York City for 74th year

October 08, 2018 - 12:46 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The Columbus Day Parade is back for the 74th year in New York City.

The parade along Fifth Avenue always celebrates with the sights and sounds of the Italian-American community and this year, First Data President Guy Chiarello will serve as Grand Marshal.

The celebration kicked off with a mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, before the parade got underway later Monday morning.

Recently, the celebration has created a divide among Americans. Several cities, including Columbus, Ohio – the largest city named for Christopher Columbus – have called off their observances.

Chiarello said he is not worried about the controversy.

“I don’t get wrapped up in the controversy. American is the greatest country in the world,” he said. “It represents freedom and everybody has to have their own heritage and beliefs.”

Chiarello is the president of First Data corporation.

"Our great-grandparents ended up at Ellis Island and created this opportunity for all of us, and today the largest celebration of Italian Americans in the country right here in New York City, and we're great to be here," he said.

Those enjoying the parade said aside from the Italian American community's rich culture of music, art, and science, the concept of 'family' was what they wanted to pass on to their kids.

Last year, the parade drew a higher amount of skepticism and calls to remove the Christopher Columbus statue at Columbus Circle.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also ordered a 90-day review of city monuments that could potentially be viewed as “symbols of hate.” The Christopher Columbus status was allowed to stay.

It’s unclear if protestors will renew their calls to remove the statue.

The parade will be marching from 43rd Street up to 72nd Street until about 3 p.m.

Officials are warning to anticipate vehicular and pedestrian traffic delays in Midtown and the Upper East Side.