NEW YORK – Italian culture was on display on Monday for the traditional Columbus Day parade in New York, in which some 35,000 people participated and state Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Christopher Columbus monument in Central Park had been added to the state’s Register of Historic Places.
Despite light and intermittent rain, this year’s parade was held amid a festive atmosphere, with thousands of people in more than 100 groups participating, including bands and floats, all of them marching down Fifth Avenue with horse-mounted New York and New Jersey police.
With hundreds of thousands of spectators on hand, the Italian and US flags added even more color to the parade, which organizers said celebrates the “spirit of exploration” and the courage inspired by the 1492 expedition led by Columbus to the New World – although he was attempting to find a route to India – and the important contributions that Italian-Americans have made to this country.
In this context, Cuomo, the grandson of Italian immigrants, announced that the New York State Board for Historic Preservation has listed New York City’s Central Park monument to Columbus on the State Register of Historic Places and recommended the statue for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
The granite column stands 76 feet high and was erected in 1892 in Central Park by New York’s growing Italian-American community, who embraced Columbus as a unifying figure to help Italians overcome discrimination and gain inclusion into US society, in general.
“The Columbus Monument is a powerful symbol of the Italian-American community and a testament to New York’s role in assimilating immigrants from all over the world in our state,” Cuomo said.
“This designation sends a strong message of the statue’s importance to our state’s history and how worthy it is of preservation so that future generations can see it, appreciate it and learn from it,” the governor added.