Proud Italian-Americans filled the streets of Astoria with red, white and green on Saturday, Oct. 7, to celebrate their heritage during the neighborhood’s annual Columbus Day Parade.
The 40th annual march, two days ahead of the national Columbus Day observance, recognized the cultural contributions of Italian-Americans throughout America. Rocco Commisso, founder, chairman and CEO of Mediacom and the New York Cosmos soccer team, served as the grand marshal of the march that the Federation of Italian-American Organizations of Queens sponsored.
Hundreds participated in the march including local elected officials, youth groups, Italian-American organizations and marching bands. Three vehicles also carried likenesses of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria — the ships that explorer Christopher Columbus led to America in 1492 — accompanied the marchers as they made their journey from Kaufman-Astoria Studios to the Columbus statue at the corner of Astoria Boulevard and 32nd Street.
The base of the 7-foot-tall statue was vandalized several weeks ago with the words “Don’t honor genocide,” an allusion to recent historical evidence which suggests that Columbus may have had indigenous people killed soon after he arrived in the New World. Photographer Walter Karling reported that Saturday’s parade was “devoid of any anti-Columbus protesters” and the statue base itself had been meticulously cleaned before marchers arrived.